DARPA, the Pentagon’s source for R&D (and lovers of acronyms big and small) have released a video illustrating the Damage Tolerance and Autonomous Landing Solution they developed alongside Athena Technologies. Basically, DTALS is designed to take over for a pilot in the event that the aircraft sustains heavy damage. The system automatically detects the damage and adjusts the flight control system to land the aircraft safely.
In the demo video, a scale model F-18 manages to return safely to the earth despite the loss of over 60% of its wing. At this point, the DTALS system is being confined to UAVs and other unmanned aircraft, but it seems that it could be applicable to manned an commercial aircraft somewhere down the line. Hit the following link to see the full video. [Rockwell Collins and Business Wire]