With #selfdrivingcarsand trucks coming on fast, it’s only natural to wonder if #selfflyingplanesmight be next. In fact, the aviation industry is pushing to make #autonomouspassenger aircraft a reality — and sooner than you might think.
#airbusis developing an #autonomousairtaxidubbed #Vahana. The tilt-wing, multi-propeller craft is designed to take off and land in tight spaces and able to fly about 50 miles before its batteries need recharging.
Vahana is intended for short urban hops — but what about long flights? How far away are we from a pilotless airliner?
Airbus’s main rival, #Boeing, has hinted that such a craft might be on the way. At the #parisairshowlast summer, Mike Sinnett, the company’s vice-president of product development, said “the basic building blocks of the technology clearly are available.” Key elements, including the #artificialintelligencesystem “that makes decisions that pilots would make,” will be tested next year.
Even before truly pilotless airliners show up, we may see a reduction in cockpit crew numbers. “What the industry is telling me is that they would like to remove one of the pilots fairly soon, and re-design the cockpit around a single pilot,” says Stephen Rice, a professor at #embryriddleaeronauticaluniversityin #DaytonaBeach, #Florida. That would involve at least a modest cockpit redesign, so that a single pilot is able to operate all of the controls. “There might also be a remote-control pilot on the ground, in case of emergencies, like a heart attack,” he adds. “This remote pilot could monitor many airplanes [at once].” But eventually “they would like to remove the last pilot.” This wouldn’t be the first time the aviation industry has cut back on crews. In the 1950s, it took five people to fly an airliner — two pilots, a flight engineer, a radio operator, and a navigator. By the 1960s, the radio operator and navigator were gone. In the 1990s, flight engineers disappeared. Given this trend, fully automated aviation may seem inevitable. More in comments #autonomoussociety #buildingthematrix #automation