Microsoft Offers Platform for Learning Autonomous Flight Systems

Microsoft has unveiled a comprehensive platform designed to accelerate the development of autonomous flight. The project, called AirSim, was presented on July 18, 2022 at the Farnborough Air Show. Specifically, Microsoft has transformed its open source AirSim tool, which required programming skills, into a tool that makes it easier for air mobility customers to test and develop AI aircraft in simulated 3D environments.

Detailed 3D environment

This platform, powered by Microsoft Azure, is designed to develop, train and test autonomous aircraft through simulation. The goal is to teach onboard systems to respond to countless variables: how to respond in rain, hail or snow; how wind or extreme temperatures affect flight; Can the drone also shoot the product being inspected effectively in case of fog.

Microsoft explains that the AirSim platform is based on Azure, which allows it to generate huge amounts of data to train artificial intelligence models on the actions to be taken at each stage, from takeoff to landing, including the flight recovery stage.

Microsoft promises realistic environments where AI models can complete millions of flights in seconds. The American explains that it will be possible to use data from Bing Maps or other providers to create detailed 3D environments and access a library of specific places like New York or London or shared spaces like an airport. Microsoft adds that it is working “with industry partners to expand the precise modeling of weather, physics and, most importantly, the sensors that an autonomous car uses to ‘see’ the world.”

Pretrained AI Models

Pre-trained AI models will also eventually be offered on AirSim to accelerate autonomy in air infrastructure verification, last mile delivery and urban air mobility.

Microsoft also plans to work with civil aviation regulators on how its AirSim platform can help certify autonomous systems. The AirSim platform is currently only available in preview. Bell is already using it to hone the ability of its drones to land autonomously. From delivering packages to inspecting works of art with the help of people transport, air mobility is set to develop significantly in the coming years, and Microsoft intends to capitalize on this new market.

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