Planes without pilots

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Planes without pilots

Vivek Varyani
September 4th, 2017

Boeing has announced that it is working on planes without pilots for the future. Flying in a metal tube over 40,000 feet was scary enough, now you’ll have to do it knowing that there’s no human controlling the plane. How convenient! Don’t get me wrong, flying doesn’t terrify me. The idea of flying without a pilot does. But would you trust Artificial Intelligence on a plane?


Artificial Intelligence is slowly yet steadily taking over our day-to-day lives, it might as well take over our day to day deaths. Considering the fact that the planes can take off, cruise and even land, using just on board computers, the idea of pilotless planes might not be a stretch.


Boeing knows that meeting airline safety standards is not going to be easy. Although tricky, Boeing has prioritised the safety features of the technology. The permissions would then naturally follow. The benefits of these are financially huge. It is estimated that the industry spends about £25 billion on pilots a year. Artificial Intelligence would also help reduce fuel wastage by flying much more efficiently. This could potentially reduce the cost of flying by a tenth. This means flying holidays would be much cheaper. Not so scared of pilotless planes now, are ya?


So what do the people generally think about the idea of a pilotless plane?

According to a survey conducted by investment bank UBS, more than half of the 8,000 respondents said that they would not fly in a plane that has no pilot, even if it meant lower prices. Only 17% of the respondents said that they were willing to take a pilotless flight. The good new for aeroplane companies, however, is that younger and more educated people were more willing to fly pilotless planes. This bodes well for the technology as well as for the airline industry. The future looks positive.




What about the pilots?

Pilots on the other hand who have been in so much demand over the past few years will have to start finding new jobs. Although this technology will take years, maybe even decades to come into existence, the number of available pilot jobs might decline. Keeping that in mind, we cannot completely rely on computers and technology without a reliable back up. What if there is a glitch in the system? What if the AI loses track? Well, Boeing plans on having on-ground pilots, who can take over the controls of the plane should anything go wrong. The thought of flying in remote control planes was also a cause for concern among the respondents. Controlling remote control cars was difficult and they did not like the idea of being in a remotely controlled aeroplane themselves.


Pilotless Cargo Planes

Due to safety concerns, the technology would be set to feature for cargo planes first. This would help undermine the perceived risk and allow Boeing to gain their customers trust. Pilotless cargo planes would provide for much more profits. Costs would significantly decrease, and the frequency of journeys would also increase, as they would not have to worry about pilots’ sleeping hours. The AI can then conduct journeys 24 hours a day. The benefits of pilotless flying are immense. From costs and efficiency to safety and frequency, all can be done with minimum error and maximum convenience.


Whether we like it or not, Artificial Intelligence is making a mark in almost every large industry. Its benefits are huge and prominent. We are moving into an age where technology is the optimum way to get things done. The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are contributing to the future of life on our planet. You know what they say if you can’t beat them….


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