Self-driving cars, self-driving trains, and soon, perhaps, 'self-flying' aircrafts? The science fiction world that you know from TV seems to be becoming more and more realistic. If we believe the CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, we will be using self-flying aircraft within the next 40 to 50 years. Even with today's technology, you might be able to travel around the world faster in an unmanned aircraft!
Flying without a pilot: What does that look like?
Controls that move by themselves? A cockpit without controls? A robot in a pilot's suit? Time will tell, the last one comes pretty close to what we see in the video below. This is a test from 2015, by Boeing using a simulator, would you dare to step into this plane?
Why flying without pilots is getting closer
In 2017, it was announced that autonomous flying is the future and since the summer of 2018, it seems to be progressing even faster!
Collaboration between Boeing & SparkCognition
Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, announced a partnership with SparkCognition in July 2018. SparkCognition is the superpower in the field of artificial intelligence. Together they will work on an air traffic controller of sorts that will guide both manned and unmanned planes in 'air tracks'. The fact that an artificial air traffic controller is already in the works suggests that developments in the field of autonomous technology are proceeding at a good pace.
Boeing confirmed this suggestion when they announced in September 2018 that they have found a way to reduce the number of pilots needed to just one using autonomous technology. Planes are not currently allowed to fly with fewer than two pilots, but the technology is there!