In a world where technological advancements are emerging extremely fast, self-driving cars and drones are becoming habitual. One of the newest and most exciting developments in technology is the possibility of fully autonomous airplanes capable of taking long trips without a pilot. Today, engineers lack the necessary AI technology for self-driving planes to ensure safe flights for customers; however, within ten years, autonomous planes will be more reliable than human pilots.
The biggest concern about AI-powered planes is their inability to react to unforeseen changes, such as unexpected weather patterns and intense turbulence. Artificial intelligence cannot monitor and adjust to adverse environments; whereas, human pilots can correct the plane's path.
The shortcomings of autonomous flying are apparent in the Air France and Lion Air crash. The Air France crash was caused by a failure with the autopilot system on an Airbus 330, in which ice crystals accumulate on the pitot tubes in the fuselage, resulting in inaccurate speed readings. Consequently, autopilot mode disengaged, and the pilots unknowingly sent the plane crashing into the ocean.
The Lion Air crash was the result of an autopilot maneuvering system incorrectly steering the nose of the airplane downward because it thought the aircraft was stalling. The pilots attempted to combat the maneuvering system but were unable and all 189 members on the flight were killed.
To make progress towards fully autonomous planes, mechanics and engineers must make their algorithms work in every possible scenario. This accuracy will ensure that human intervention is not needed when a plane finds itself in an unforeseen situation.
Engineers have created a learn-to-fly platform that allows aircraft to learn from their wrongdoing and adapt to these failures by improving their responses to these situations. Assuming these fail-proof algorithms are developed, safe, fully autonomous planes will perform better than humans in all scenarios.