Boeing has announced plans to experiment with pilot-less planes.
The aerospace company believes commercial jets can one day be piloted by artificial intelligence.
Existing auto-pilot systems assist in landings without human input. The auto pilot typical takes over in cruising altitude, while the crew rests or tends to other duties. Current programming embedded in passenger airplanes are insufficient for automated flight.
Programming a computer to react in an emergency is impossible. Recent leaps in deep learning can make automated flight a reality. In theory, a machine can make a set of decisions in case of an emergency and react to situations as a human would. The research and development for this type of learning will prove to be a challenge. Approval by safety regulators will be another major hurdle.
“The basic building blocks of the technology are clearly available,” according to VP of Boeing, Mike Sinnett.
At the Paris Air Show, the VP of Boeing remained optimistic that it is achievable in the future.
Consumers and the general public remain skeptical of automated flight, but according to an Oxford study (see article here), technology experts believe artificial intelligence will advance sooner than originally thought.
Will humans in the future feel safe in an AI controlled airplane? Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX believes machines can become hostile towards humans. His non-profit company Open AI, aims to develop and promote friendly AI that will benefit humanity as a whole.
Last month, a robot successfully landed a simulated commercial plane.
Aurora Flight Sciences, which developed the robot, is excited about its recent accomplishment. Auto landing systems are not uncommon in aviation; however, the excitement comes from the fact that a physical robot sat in the co-pilot’s seat.
This has been done with smaller craft, but Aurora is getting closer to potentially using robots in passenger airplanes.
With exponential growth of technology and machine learning, automated air travel should no longer be dismissed as science fiction.