Microsoft unveils Project AirSim for testing drones and other autonomous aircraft through simulation

Microsoft is launching a new rendition of its autonomous aircraft simulation technology, 'Project AirSim,' starting with a limited preview.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Airtonomy

Several years ago, Microsoft Research offered an open-sourced tool called AirSim, which was a simulator for drones, cars and other autonomous vehicles. After years of experimentation, Microsoft ended up archiving the repository for the original AirSim platform. But today, July 18, 2022, it launched a new AirSim simulation platform for the aerospace industry called "Project AirSim."

Project AirSim, like the original AirSim, uses AI models to build, train and test drones and other autonomous aircraft using 3D simulation. Officials say one key difference between the original AirSim and the new Project AirSim is the original required "deep expertise in coding and machine learning." (The original AirSim was integrated with the company's Bonsai machine-teaching technology, plus reinforcement learning from Azure Machine Learning Services.)

Project AirSim will offer libraries of simulated 3D environments and uses Azure to generate "massive amounts of data for training AI models on exactly which actions to take at each phase of flight, from takeoff to cruising to landing," according to the company.

Microsoft officials said they see a number of potential use cases for Project AirSim, ranging from hobbyist drones to aircraft carrying passengers. Autonomous aerial vehicles can be used to inspect the equipment, carry packages and more.

Project AirSim is in a limited preview at the moment. For more information, fill out this form.

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