For a pilot, air-to-air refuelling is one of the most difficult and dangerous procedures to perform. Automating the process would not only eliminate the risk of human error but would also cut down the number of pilot hours required for training.
Jonathan du-Bois, an engineer at Bristol University is currently developing these automated systems using a combination of sensors and control algorithms, not to mention a couple of very large robots. The problem isn't simple and with automated systems comes issues of feedback delay and latency - things which add new layers of complexity.
Before he can begin though, he needs to hack into the robots' control system...
This work is funded by Cobham Mission Equipment as part of the ASTRAEA Programme, which seeks to enable the routine use of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) in all classes of airspace without the need for restrictive or specialised conditions of operation.
This film is part of a project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering to develop the on camera communication skills of engineers across the UK.
Find out more on the Ri Channel: richannel.org/collections/2012/components