MaxAvInovations: Boeing to Test Pilotless Planes

I don’t want to go off topic but I personally like driving and so do many others. Also i still think humans would be safer drivers for many reasons. Not to mention the loss of jobs for taxi drivers and other sole traders or workers

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As a recurrent theme in aviation, the percentage rate of security is a big factor. 2011 saw an estimate of 30 million commercial flights that year – if the autopilot fails 0.0001% of the time, that’s still 3000 flights going down, risking all passengers who have no way to land. By comparison, Wikipedia has 36 aircraft accidents and incidents that year, for a safety rate of about 99.9999%. We’re going to need something a LOT safer.

Compared to cars, aircraft are a lot harder to operate. Cars need to learn what a road is, what traffic lights are, know the speed limit, and know where other cars are. It also needs to be aware of other road conditions, and what speed its going at and where it precisely is. I’m sure there are other variables, but so far it seems like a car is simple enough to drive, and self-learning machines could drive a car relatively easily.

Planes on the other hand are much more complex. They must be able to calculate take-off speeds, time of rotation, V1/V2/VR speeds, weight and balance, learn what a taxiway is, find and communicate with other planes, and check systems to ensure that the aircraft is functioning correctly. Even then, the aircraft isn’t even in the air. Before the aircraft takes off, it needs to be able to deduce whether the aircraft has enough runway, its flaps settings, whether all systems are working, the weather forecast, its current location, and be prepared for unexpected conditions like sudden wind and icing. After take-off, it needs to figure out its route, cruise speed, altitude, flaps settings again, rate of climb, and avoid traffic. Once at cruise, it then needs to recalculate fuel needed and be prepared for more factors like clear-air turbulence, wing and engine icing, and check systems like pressurization and hydraulics. When landing, the aircraft now needs to check for terrain, speed, calculate its descent and approach, configure the aircraft for arrival, and execute the landing of a piece of metal flying at 150 kts on a strip of pavement, ensuring it can stop in time and is looking out for landing issues such as other aircraft, birds, weather, and other factors. And that’s just in regular operating conditions. Because aircraft have ever-changing conditions, this new autopilot needs to be able to check systems and its environment, and know how to adapt to a new situation such as a change in weather or terrain. Even then, the autopilot needs to have internal checklists for things like engine flame-out, shutdown, failure, and systems failures as well as issues like fire or sudden events like fatigue. Pilots will immediately know if their plane loses pressure or it there’s a fire, but in some cases the autopilot will not.

And here’s the main issue: we need to ensure that this system can consistently detect its surroundings, from preventing pitot-tube icing to having fully working smoke detectors to constant camera and GPS operation that won’t fail mid-flight. Without any input, the autopilot has nothing to work on and cannot fly the plane. And that’s one of the biggest flaws with an autopilot system – even if the computer knew everything and every possible situation, there’s always the possibility the pitot heat fails, or the computer loses power, or that a sensor fails. Without sensors, it’s near impossible for a computer to do a good job, and no one wants a plane that crashed because a sensor failed. And it wouldn’t just be that plane – that issue would be present on every single aircraft globally. I sincerely hope you aren’t on one of those 3000 flights.

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In terms of leisurely driving, cars probably should have leisure driving option. However, that may need to be on a specific track, as it would be safer if all cars on the streets were self-driving. How would a human be safer? I guess the person riding the car should be alert in case the auto-driver malfunctions or is compromised.

I don’t mind ships! 😃

There may be alot more to this than I thought. There is still a possibility that completely pilot-less planes won’t ever happen. The current level of autopilot is quite high, and I’m begginning to think it’s high enough. An AI might be able to assist a pilot to make sure he/she doesn’t make any human errors. The ideal method might be that a human checks on an AI, or an AI checks on a human. A skilled pilot could still make a mistake (forgetting something, etc.) that an autopilot wouldn’t do since it’s programmed to do it. But it could have an error.

So, you’d be fine with a 3-14 day trip.

I think I’ve decided my opinion. An AI should check on a pilot to make sure they didn’t make any mistakes. And I think the current level of autopilot is good, and we should probably focus on improving it, such as autoland, and maybe even a takeoff.
You have to remember that a experienced, skilled human can still make a silly error, that could lead to disastrous results.

Not on a cruise ship. I’ll spend 10 days enjoying myself

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This has to be the worst idea in my opinion. This can provide potentially harmful situations that could throw the notion of bankruptcy in their future. Yes, human error is something that they may be trying to compensate for but it cannot trump human instinct. Something I strongly feel is needed in a position that is so strenuous and demanding.

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Nay Sayer! They told the Wrights it would never fly, the Spruce Goose would never get of the ground, man was incapable of flying faster than the speed of sound, only bi-planes had enough lifting power, Drones where incapable of killing a target from thousands of miles away. The list is endless. @N4644US you sound like my Brit Uncle, He lived thru the London Blitz, he learned quickly to go to a shelter when he heard a Buzzzzz Sound! Am sure you believe in Global Warming to! Next…Watch the sky’s. (Gort, Klayto, Nicto, Barundi!). Regards, Max

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Cruise ships don’t currently go across the world. They also are active only in certain seasons.

I remember a self-flying plane was in testing and crashed a few years ago.

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😂 The point is you won’t find me on a pilotless plane.

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Ok. I got that now. 😂

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@AIDoLS… Interesting but flawed observation “AID”. Note your a gamer from your bio. I understand you dilemma! When your older and have a bit of your own money suggest you take a “Round the World Cruise”!

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Well. Man I am wrong. I don’t know if I will. I don’t really like the idea of being on a ship for more than a few days. 😂
Also, I prefer you call me AID if you want to shorten my name.

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OK 100 DAYS. NO. Just no. 100 days on a ship!? I can’t handle that…
Also not “AID” just AID.

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Brilliant reply, thanks for taking the time my friend.
Yes the autopilot systems are going to need 99.999(and an awful lot more 9s)% reliability.

So the question is how does it get layered into the aircraft?
Would the computers / AI be native and baked in right from the beginning with a scratch built aircraft? Or will piggyback systems be used on existing designs?
I wonder how Boeing will begin this process.

The next related question would be the sensor suits we currently know, would have to be drastically redesigned. How will they do that?
More pitot tubes, layers of backup systems and backup power sources to give the computer more options if a system trips out - or something radically different.

When you compare the processing power behind even the most modern airliner, versus the sheer processing power that could be used with AI 5 - 10 year from now, we are still in the dark ages. The emergency checklists used today are slow and generic, computers would be millisecond quick.

I wonder if they would create a virtual pilot function, like the military UAV pilots step in if the UAV reports back problems and the guy at base flies it back down manually.

And the last thought that comes to mind, who orders an evacuation? Would the computer have authority over the cabin crew?

I think whoever designs this stuff is never going to be bored at work!

if self pilotless planes become a massive thing in the future, at least have some back up pilots just incase, because I am a little obnonxious about self flying planes as I fly over seas every year

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MaxSez: What a stimulating thread! I’m convinced there are some extremely talented and " smart" individuals in oyyur membership. We must continue to improve the focal point of this Forum, iF and the advancement of our professional aviation knowledge. Thank you all for your savvy contribution here!

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