Semi-Automated Aviation System Might Fight Pilot Scarcity


  • A cargo airplane flew 50 miles with no pilot on board earlier this month.
  • The Cessna 208B plane was distant control-operated by a pilot from a management middle.
  • The innovation might in the future assist fight a rising pilot scarcity, an aviation skilled advised CNN. 

A standard cargo airplane flew a normal 50-mile route final month with no people on board, marking a serious milestone in a brand new period of automated aviation.

Dependable Robotics, an automation methods firm primarily based in California, touted the profitable flight earlier this month after a Cessna 208B Caravan safely took off, flew, and landed with no pilot contained in the airplane.

The 12-minute flight departed from Hollister Airport in Northern California as a human pilot remotely operated the plane from a management middle 50 miles away, in line with a Dependable Robotics press launch.

The flight system permits the Cessna airplane to be distant management operated by a pilot from the bottom. The mannequin is supposed to stop lack of management mid-flight, in addition to enhance security in relation to take-off and touchdown measures, the corporate stated.

The pilot sends alerts to the plane by way of encrypted satellite tv for pc alerts, CNN reported earlier this week. It makes use of an interface just like these utilized by air site visitors controllers.

“This isn’t a online game,” Robert Rose, CEO of Dependable Robotics, advised the outlet. “There is no joystick and you do not have the flexibility to hand-fly the airplane remotely.”

“There is no video feed that provides you real-time suggestions,” he added. “The best way they management the plane is basically a menu of choices: you possibly can consider it like a ‘select your personal journey’ primarily based on the place the plane is, and there is a set of buttons to permit the pilot to redirect the airplane some other place.”

Each communication despatched to the airplane over the course of the flight additionally consists of touchdown directions in case of a future communication failure, the outlet reported.

“You could possibly say that the plane is autonomous,” Rose advised CNN. “If you happen to inform it to do nothing else, or when you lose communications with it, it is going to do the very last thing you advised it to do, which is the definition of autonomy. It has no direct human management.”

Whereas speak of automated air management could strike worry within the hearts of AI skeptics, an aviation skilled stated the Dependable Robotics mannequin isn’t a alternative for real-life pilots.

The system, which has been within the works since 2019, might find yourself addressing the present pilot scarcity, David Soucie, an aviation skilled, advised CNN this week.

Airways have been struggling to rent sufficient certified pilots to maintain up with demand amid an ongoing pilot scarcity spurred partly by a post-pandemic increase in journey.

The automated flight mannequin nonetheless requires a real-life pilot to function the airplane and pilots should be licensed to fly the airplane from the cockpit so as to use the automated system, CNN reported.

“However the distinction is you do not have to have a layover for a pilot; the variety of hours they’re ready to get on the subsequent flight would not should happen, so it’s going to have nice impression on the scarcity of pilots we’ve as we speak,” Soucie advised the outlet.

Rose advised CNN that the system would assist airways streamline their operations as pilots work from a single location.

Dependable Robotics is at the moment working with the US army to try to apply the know-how to bigger plane, the corporate stated earlier this month.


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