Can 30 lines of computer code prevent plane crashes?

by Emily Donohue on July 25, 2014

Rensselaer researcher Carlos Varela has developed a computer system that detects and corrects faulty airspeed readings, such as those that contributed to the 2009 crash of Air France flight 447. Their approach to detecting errors could make autopilot systems safer and could also be applicable in many systems that rely on sensor readings.

Varela spoke to WAMC recently and his explanation of his work aired on the Academic Minute July 25.

Here’s an excerpt of his explanation:

Every day we use machines and devices that are loaded with sensors collecting information on everything from outside air pressure and traffic jams to body temperature and heart rate.

We increasingly rely on these sensors as part of real-time automated systems that oversee mechanical functions and monitor our health and safety, but how can we be sure that the vast quantities of data these sensors provide are accurate?

As we saw with the 2009 crash of Air France flight 447, these sensors literally protect lives, and if not detected, a data error can result in tragedy.

Listen to the full interview here: