Airplane manufacturer Boeing is set to start testing self-flying vehicles according to new reports.
The Independent reports that Boeing will soon be testing self-flying planes, possibly utilizing artificial intelligence to make decisions usually left up to human pilots. Boeing’s aim is to develop an aircraft that can operate entirely with minimal human interaction. Planes can already take off, cruise, and land without much interaction from human pilots, so the idea of a fully functioning artificial intelligence-powered plane is not too far fetched.
Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product development, told Reuters, “When I look at the future I see a need for you know 41,000 commercial jet airplanes over the course of the next 20 years. And that means we’re going to need something like six hundred and seventeen thousand more pilots. That’s a lot of pilots.” He continued to say, “so one of the ways that may be solved is by having some type of autonomous behaviour and that could be anything from taking instead of five pilots on a long haul flight down to three or two, taking two pilots down to one in a freight situation, or in some cases going from one to none.”
“So one of the ways that may be solved is by having some type of autonomous behaviour and that could be anything from taking instead of five pilots on a long haul flight down to three or two, taking two pilots down to one in a freight situation, or in some cases going from one to none,” he explained.
Starting this summer, Boeing will use advanced cockpit simulators used in the training of pilots to test the new self-flying technology before implementing it in an actual aircraft.
Boeing isn’t the only airplane manufacturer looking at automated travel: Airbus is currently working on self-driving flying cars and will be testing single-seater flying taxis by the end of 2017 with the aim of rolling out further access to the taxis in 2021. Airbus, however, is looking to develop an Uber-like ride-hailing system while Boeing seems to be focusing on long haul, large passenger flights.