Robots in the Cockpit

Posted 28 Jun 2003 at 00:45 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

New Scientist has an article that seems to suggest that we are finally in the age where pilotless planes will start using regular airports with the rest of us. Actually, there will be a pilot, it will just be a robotic control system for a pilot, not a human. Nasa hopes that someday flying will be as easy as driving a car with their "Highway in the Sky" technology to aid planes in takeoff, flight path, and landing without any interaction. They say that if there is anyone needed in the cockpit it's just a dog to bite you if you try to touch the controls. It would be quite cool if there was an aircar in every garage. However, critics are worried that pilotless planes could run amok and run into towers or other aircraft. These days, UAVs are often guided by a human through satellite technology and not necessarily automomously. However, there is still great concern for reliability mishaps with power outages or lost communications and so planes will come falling out of the sky. Already, there's talk of airplanes getting remote control override in case of hijacking in the future so people do want it. Perhaps the unions are just worried that UAVs will take over cargo flights and cause lots of lost jobs? Anyway you look at it, though, pilotless planes (UAVs) are coming!

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