Microsoft researchers have created a system that uses artificial intelligence to keep the sailplane in the air without using a motor, by autonomously finding and catching rides on naturally occurring thermals, similar to how many birds stay aloft.
“Birds do this seamlessly, and all they’re doing is harnessing nature. And they do it with a peanut-sized brain,” says Ashish Kapoor, a principal researcher at Microsoft.
The birds do it naturally. For a machine to do it requires a complex set of AI algorithms that can identify things like air temperature, wind direction and areas where it is not allowed to fly. Then, the system must use other AI methods to take that information and make real-time predictions about where it might find its next ride on a thermal.
Taken together, that’s much more complex than most AI systems people are using today for individual tasks like recognizing a face in a photo or the words in a conversation.
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