Microsoft and Flight Automation

Microsoft is doing a lot of advance work on flight automation, which might be the next big thing.

Co.Design reports on the work Microsoft researchers are doing both in the field and in simulation:

“Software simulators, with realistic physics just like a video game, offer one appealing alternative to real-world data when it comes to training AI. So before Microsoft put its glider in the real-life sky, it trained it to fly by watching hawks inside a simulator. The team built an open-source software called AirSim for its flight experiments, and over countless trials, various algorithms Microsoft developed learned how to fly like a hawk.”

This seems like a smart move by Microsoft, which largely missed the self-driving car goldrush. Instead of being a late entrant into that field, it’s getting a head start in an even more advanced field.

Microsoft’s Seattle location also works better with flight than it does with the automotive industry. Boeing’s Everett, Washington, aircraft factory is the largest in the world, and presumably a large network of suppliers and talent has grown up around that.

Microsoft also has roots in the flight world, with it’s series of Flight Simulator commercial products, and now its open-source AirSim research tool.

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