Pilot? Where We're Going, We Don't Need Pilots!

from the another-job-taken-over-by-technology dept

Unmanned drones are now popular for military uses, and appear to do a pretty good job flying around without a pilot. So, what about the concept of a pilotless commercial airliner full of passengers? Lots of people say it’s possible – but the real question is whether or not anyone would actually fly the pilotless skies. From a publicity standpoint, it would be pretty damaging, as I imagine it would scare an awful lot of people who would not feel comfortable being on such a plane. At this point, it seems this fear, rather than any technological hurdle is the main reason why no one is seriously talking about it. Even though human pilots make mistakes, I imagine most people still feel a lot more comfortable knowing that a human can make split-second decisions should something go wrong with the computer systems.

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Comments on “Pilot? Where We're Going, We Don't Need Pilots!”

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LittleW0lf says:

Pilotless Skies

Most modern commercial airplanes fly themselves now anyway, the pilot is there to deal with air traffic control and emergencies, and possibly take off and landings (though those can be done by autopilot too.) They feed the flight information into the autopilot on the ground before take off, then once they are at altitude they flip on the autopilot.

However, just because they currently fly by autopilot most of the time doesn’t mean that I’d get on a plane flown by computer without having someone experienced in flying the plane in the front monitoring things, who can take over if something goes wrong (which it will, especially if they are using WindowsCE to control the plane.)

Jack Straq says:

Re: Pilotless Skies

Most accidents are due to human error. It’s a challenge to invent machines which humans won’t at some point use wrongly either because of ignorance or just plain stupidity.

If ALL computers on board a plane stops working suddenly – well, I imagine that it dosn’t really matter what the pilot does. It’s going to crash. Most military fighter planes for instance can’t possibly be controlled without the aid of computers. I speculate that most of the really big commercial planes are a little like that as well.

So we are already depending on the computer. I’d like to see some statistics for how many accidents are caused by human error and how many are caused by computational errors. Afterall, if you are going to die in a plane crash its not going to be more pleasant just becuase you were killed by a human error rather than a malfunction in a circuit.

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