Autonomous cars are all the rage at the moment. And while that’s taken a while to get used to, it does make logical sense and doesn’t exactly sound far fetched. Bit what about planes? How happy would you be boarding a plane that was going to be flown by a machine? Well, if Airbus has anything to do with it, that’s exactly what will be happening in the near future.
If artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create autonomous cars, then why not planes? The way Airbus envision it is to have just one person pilot a commercial jetliner. This would cut staffing costs down incredibly. To help make this dream become reality Airbus will be setting up an innovation centre in Shenzhen. “We’re pursuing single-pilot operation as a potential option and a lot of the technologies needed to make that happen has also put us on the path towards unpiloted operation,” said Airbus chief technology officer, Paul Eremenko.
There’s various AI applications being used in the automotive industry, Airbus will be one of the first to introduce it into the aerospace industry in such a dramatic way. But, it’s still quite a daunting prospect for many when they try to picture themselves being piloted by AI. While drones have been around for a few years now, it’s still not the same as an actual passenger plane, and it make take a while for people to jump onboard (literally). Boeing is another company in the aerospace industry that’s been experimenting with AI. This time in the form of flying taxis.
To try and accelerate their ideas faster, Airbus has been working with various Chinese tech and AI firms. China is the leading country in terms of autonomous vehicles right now, so it makes sense to turn to them for help. “I think the general aviation space in China is just opening up,” said Eremenko. “There’s an opportunity for China to sort of take a leap ahead as it has been prone to in other areas and design the aerospace system, design the regulatory regime to be future looking, forward looking to enable urban air mobility.”
Through the use of AI, China could soon emerge as one of the leading countries among the aerospace industry. AI could also be used to produce the extra cockpit crew that will be needed, Eremenko says.