Most people know that car companies are working hard to build automated driving systems for their vehicles, but other forms of transportation may also be automated in the coming decades. The plane manufacturer Boeing is looking to take automated flight to the next level with the help of a company named SparkCognition.
If you’re afraid that your next flight might be pilot-less, you shouldn’t worry. The two companies have announced that they are focusing on AI for drones and other electric vertical take-off and landing machines, also known as eVTOL for short.
Drones are a big business right now, from the small drones that people use to take photos on trips to the multi-million dollar machines used by the military to deploy explosives in combat zones. However, it looks like Boeing is looking into a new niche for the aircraft manufacturing industry, aircraft that can transport people across urban environments. Think of a drone that can act as a flying taxi. It might sound like something out of science fiction, but companies like Uber are already looking into how they can fly their customers from point A to B in cities where street-level travel is slow and frustrating.
Advanced AI can also help companies to connect different modes of transport together for more efficient movement of people and cargo. As more and more companies experiment with using drones to move people and deliver products, it will be essential to find ways to make sure that they can all operate together safely. Air travel is currently as safe as it is in part because of how clear the airways are. If the urban skies are ever going to fill up with drones, it will be essential to develop AI that can safely coordinate all aircraft so that crashes can be avoided.
So are we all going to be flying in driverless planes in a few years? That seems highly unlikely. It looks like it could be a long time before driverless cars are common and it’s hard to imagine a day when people trust planes without pilots. However, modern planes already operate with the help of high-tech automation, Boeing is just looking for the next step in the evolution of flight.
The technology Boeing and SparkCognition develop will drones, and other similar flying machines but the advancements they come up with could very well change the way we fly in the future.