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Airbus' self-flying plane just completed successful taxi, take-off, and landing tests, opening the door for fully autonomous flightAirbus just completed its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off, and Landing project that saw one of its jets perform normally pilot-flown maneuvers entirely on its own. The A350-1000 XWB acted as the testbed for the project in its role as Airbus' flagship, with onboard cameras assisting the new technology. The project's successful completion opens the door for fully autonomous flights as autopilot already handles most of the functions while airborne. The common belief with airplanes is that they… (www.yahoo.com) More...
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I have no problem with automated flight systems, but the day they remove the pilots from the aircraft and go to fully automated, unsupervised flight is the day I stop flying.
"Open the pod door, Hal" "I'm sorry, Dave" - 2001 A Space Odyssey
will the computer be able to land on the Hudson? Will a computer be able to fly the plane as a glider to the Azores and land it? What about gliding to an abandoned airstrip in Gimli Manitoba? There are too many reasons to justify needing real, experienced Pilots instead of computers or remote operators.
And yet the military has been flying drones halfway around the world from NEvada for years. And yes, computers will be that smart that they will be able to operate emergency landings and they will probably be able to do it quicker and more efficient.
Already exists: Garmin’s ‘Autonomi’ autonomous emergency landing system, available on some general aviation aircraft. This automatically performs descent, approach, and landing at a suitable nearby airport. Activates if pilot doesn’t interact with the airplane for some pre-set length of time, or if a passenger pushes the button.
Well those military "drones" don't operate autonomously. Every single one of them has a human operator(s) "flying" them. Sometimes they're essentially just programming them, and sometimes they're full-blown flying them, but there are always human operators involved. On top of that, the military loses literally DOZENS of drones a year to a myriad of issues from lost data links, to basic mechanical or weather issues that an onboard pilot might be able to recognize in time to correct or overcome. And lastly, the cost and complexity of all the additional systems that have to be put on board the UAVs in order to replace the pilot usually adds up to millions of dollars per aircraft. UAVs that were originally marketed to the Air Force as "not putting a human pilot at risk" have become so expensive that the military is just as risk averse to sending the unnamed aircraft into harms way as they are to sending in the manned aircraft.