Plane manufacturer Boeing is set to start testing pilotless planes as early as next year. Meaning that artificial intelligence is in charge of the Jets, and completely responsible for making life and death decisions.
Initially, it was thought that driverless cars were the next phase of modern transportation with companies like Uber and Tesla creating mock-ups of their own cars of the future, it seems that aviation wants in on the fun too.
“The basic building blocks of the technology are clearly available,” said Mike Sinnett, former chief systems engineer on the 787 Dreamliner and now vice president at Boeing responsible for innovative future technologies, at a briefing before the Paris Air Show. [via the Seattle Times].
The plan is to fly a simulator this year installed with new artificial intelligence systems which would make some flying decisions.
If all goes well, by next year, this AI will be installed into a plane, and from there, experimental flights would take place with both pilots and engineers on board. Though we imagine just as a backup.
“We are not smart enough to preprogram all those things. The machine has to be capable of making the same set of decisions,” Sinnett said. “If it can’t, we cannot go there.”
This concept may be a long way off since piloting takes a great deal of human instinct, a flexibility computers haven’t yet fully accomplished. While autopilot can aid in the trajectory of an aircraft and encourages less of a “hands on” approach, it can’t do the job of an actual pilot.
One scenario Boeing is using as a standard to be achieved in the miracle on the Hudson.
After a bird strike took out both engines on an Airbus A320, US Airways Capt. Chelsey Sullenberger ditched the liner safely into New York’s Hudson River.
In two minutes he weighed his options, aware of the human lives in his hands.
If we teach computers that kind of humanity, then robots may just be the next step in aviation.
Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.