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'Autonomous flight is closer than you think': Reliable Robotics CEO

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Technology is making gains in autonomous flight. Ongoing work with Cessna 208 Caravan shows promise. (finance.yahoo.com) 更多...

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MDLaird
Mike Laird 11
As a software engineer, I appreciate the interesting engineering challenge of trying to build such a system, but I know enough not to ever trust one with my life. Programming a computer to fly a plane when things are "normal" is a challenging problem. Programming a computer to handle weird failures and previously-unknown situations is essentially impossible. Only people are smart and innovative enough to figure out what to do when things break or unforeseen circumstances arise.

This technology is cool, and will help with things like Amazon using drones to deliver packages, but people should never get on board an autonomous aircraft.
Viperguy46
Jesse Carroll 2
No pilot/pilots=no passengers!
jbermo
jbermo 1
. . . then, by all means, enjoy your walk to Honolulu when in 2040.
uapilot
David Wright 2
Wholeheartedly agree! It’s not whiz bang tech fun...it’s LIVES! Mine, yours, your parents, your children. How many proponents would put their own loved ones on a test bed for this kind of thing???
bbabis
bbabis 0
They don't expect anyone on a testbed. But, just as the X-1A was only for the brave, people were lined up for the Concord 20 years later and technology moves 10X faster today. Just look at the line of people waiting to get a ride into space. People will fly on the product that's out there. That's been well proven. There are plenty of people still today who refuse to fly who I do look down on because I'm up there. Feel free to join them whenever you wish.
uapilot
David Wright 1
Testbed = real live passengers on pilotless plane. Concord had pilots. Duh!
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
underestimating the exponential advance of technology is common. 100 years ago there were many people who spoke as you did about flying in planes in general; "If God would have wanted us to fly, he would have given us wings." The question is not 'IF' Passenger planes will be autonomously flown, it is 'WHEN'. It certainly may be much farther in the future than some postulate, but it will eventually happen. As computer 'pilots' advance in capability, there will be a breakeven point at which accidents 'caused' by computer pilots are reduced to below the number caused by human pilot error. There certainly will be people uncomfortable with this concept, just as there are people that would never trust an autonomously driven automobile. But observations indicate that many people will accept the new technology readily. Those people who don't... Will eventually age and die, being replaced by those who grew up with machine-intelligent autonomous capabilities.
MDLaird
Mike Laird 3
You seem to have missed my point that I happen to know about software and machine learning and am warning that there is a huge remaining obstacle that even the best machine learning systems have yet to solve, namely, handing unforeseen situations. Perhaps new research will overcome this obstacle, but that hasn't happened yet.
bbabis
bbabis 1
That step will be solved in time Mike. The natural progression will be humans monitoring autonomous aircraft for just such unforeseen situations until operational experience shows it can be curtailed or ended. At that point, there is no need for a human in the loop that is more likely to cause an accident than prevent an accident.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
Perhaps you missed my point. It is an error to think that machine-intelligence must be developed to handle ALL unforeseen situations in order to be applied into public serving roles, such as autonomous aircraft. They only need to be developed to the point where, in practice, they handle the sum of ALL flying challenges (foreseen and unforeseen) BETTER than human beings. We are in the middle of a long transition from human-only piloting to autonomous-only piloting. During this transition period, piloting responsibility is being transitioned from human pilot to machine-intelligent pilot. As each year goes by, machine-intelligence takes over more of the piloting responsibilities. The problem we are beginning to face is that human beings, once relieved of a majority of piloting responsibilities, begin a performance degradation that makes them much less effective at performing the piloting roles that remain for them. We have seen many accidents where this was the cause, and we see it in autonomous driving situations as well. At some point in the future (granted, it may not be for decades), a human being in the cockpit will offer no additional assurances of flight safety. At best, they will serve no purpose. At worst, they will interfere with the automated system and be the primary cause of accidents (we’ve seen examples already). When this transition happens, human pilots will be eliminated on commercial airliner flights. All in response to data that shows they no longer provide any real value to the passengers.
MDLaird
Mike Laird 1
You may be right that machine-flown planes can someday cover enough of the bases that they can statistically be better than the average pilot, but the human will still understand the world and be able to come up with better solutions for the remaining unforeseen situations. In addition, you have to convince the public that flying on an autonomous plane is safe enough to hop on board. That will require the failure rate to be astronomically lower than humans, or else no passengers will buy tickets. The machine has to be dramatically better than people before passengers will pay for the service. This is an extraordinarily high hurdle to surmount.
bbabis
bbabis 2
Why put more bullets in the chambers if you consider flying to be Russian Roulette? Autonomous flights don't have to be astronomically safer, just safer. Let's just say statistically that autonomous planes are shown to crash 1 in 1,000,000 flights and piloted planes are shown to crash 2 in 1,000,000 flights. Which one will people prefer?
mbazell
mbazell 7
You'd think we learned a lesson from the 737 MAX. No thanks....I'll drive or take the train before I let a computer fly my plane.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
If you've been on an airplane in the past 20 or more years, a computer has flown you. It is called an auto-pilot, and pilots routinely surrender control to it on almost every airline flight.
uapilot
David Wright 3
Right..and then we leave the cockpit after turning it on. I can tell you numerous stories of autopilot failures and thank God pilots were there to switch the F’er OFF.
KineticRider
Randy Marco 0
The MAX issue was caused by NO redundancy... and cost cutting, the technology was there to make it flawless but the flawless system requested by the engineers was omitted for Corporate GREED... PERIOD!

The Boeing Board of Directors was filled with NON-Aviation members like Niki Haley.
AndrewNZ
Andrew Bunker 6
I too like the human aspect!
RexBentley
Rex Bentley 5
Human pilot wants to get home to MA and the kids. That Rub Goldberg thing couldn't care less about itself the aircraft or the people on board.
CrtMori
Crt Mori 0
There are many reports where the Pilot crashed into the mountain because he did not want to get home - and AI cares about the safety of the aircraft a lot more as without that aircraft AI does not exist (if you want to humanize it).

Joke aside, AI always follows the protocol, while humans tend to try to skip some steps.
wopri
Wolfgang Prigge 1
Yes, and before the flight into a mountain there was the flight into the ground on the African savanna where the pilot didn’t want to go home:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAM_Mozambique_Airlines_Flight_470
uapilot
David Wright 1
One example of one idiot does not counter the millions that have flown before and after him. I’ll go with the majority here. The majority that are ACTUAL PILOTS ON AIRLINE FLIGHTS.
paulfharris
Paul F Harris 9
no thanks if I fly on any plane I expect that there WILL BE TWO PILOTS on the flight deck
w7psk
Ricky Scott 5
Im with you, no pilots = me not getting on.
bbabis
bbabis 2
You've probably boarded many flights without real pilots onboard, the kind you think occupy every cockpit, and were saved by the automation that was available to them that worked.
s2v8377
s2v8377 3
What could go wrong!!!???
bbabis
bbabis 1
Plenty, but at least you've ruled out the pilot which is the cause of 88% of aviation accidents due to their human failings.
strickerje
strickerje 3
I see this logic applied to autonomous cars as well, but the fact that 88% of aviation accidents are caused by human error doesn't prove that autonomy will reduce accidents by 88%. The autonomous aircraft will just have different accidents, like the (semi-)autonomous cars on the road now.
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling 3
The first thing that I thought of was the movie 'I, Robot', where the robot tells Will Smith's character 'You are about to experience an accident'. Yeah, I'll pass...
jlmanager
John Trimble 2
If you start with small aircraft, how will you supply experienced pilots for safety pilots, etc., since you’ve now cut off ways for pilots to get experience?
craiglgood
Craig Good 3
He could well be right. Flight is a much easier problem than autonomous driving.
wcraycroft
Warren Craycroft 3
An unbiased, objective assessment by a co-founder, CEO, and stock option holder of an autonomous flight startup company? I don't think so ...
bbabis
bbabis 3
It’s Fascinating to read these comments and compare them to how people felt about aircraft in general after the Wrights flew. It’ll never work LoL.
uapilot
David Wright 3
Huh. Remember all the driver-less car excitement until many of the proponents and testers dropped out? That was 2D, now we think 3D in a plane is inevitable? Wait until one jumbo flies into another and the mass casualties kills the entire idea. Just takes one. Mark my words. That’s not even considering passenger apprehension of putting their lives in the hands of microchips made in a Chinese sweat shop for bottom dollar!
KineticRider
Randy Marco 1
WRONG.... autonomous cars are here.
strickerje
strickerje 2
Level 4 and 5 as defined by SAE are most certainly not here, and that's the image people have when referring to cars as "autonomous".
uapilot
David Wright 1
Yeah I see them every day. Travel the world and I’m still looking for them. ROTHLMAO!
jbermo
jbermo 3
This century's list of killer aircrews constantly grows - PK-8303, Atlas Air Flight 3591, Germanwings Flight 9525, Asiana OZ214, Colgan Air Flight 3407, Ethiopian 302 (perhaps that one is a tie). Such accidents promote the coming automated future. Go ahead- vote me down. . . . Also forgot AAL 587, AF 447, UPS 1354, Aeroflot 1492 . . aw heck the list goes on and will go on.
uapilot
David Wright 1
Yeah that list is outweighed each and every 5 minutes in the flying world with decent pilots. You thing computers don’t make mistakes. Do you have a blue screen windows computer at home? Does your “smartphone” ever lock up? Has your GPS ever gotten lost? THATS REALITY. Not putting the life of one person I care about in the “hands” of a microchip or code written “who knows where.”
jfitzgerald2112
Joe Fitzgerald 1
To your point the Atlas Air Flight 3591 was eerily similar to the 737 Max incidents. In all cases part of the control system believed aircraft was stalling when it wasn't, and lowered the nose inappropriately. People don't seem to mind as much when it is the pilot making the error instead of automatic systems.
jbermo
jbermo 4
Atlas 3591 was pilot-induced pure and simple. Any equipment malfunction was merely in the pilot's head. Read the NTSB report.
jfitzgerald2112
Joe Fitzgerald 2
The NTSB said "the first officer likely experienced a pitch-up somatogravic illusion" - sounds like a malfunction to me. The pilot of '3591 was an intimate part of the control system, and malfunctioned spectacularly by lowering the nose to respond to a situation that did not actually exist.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
An 'illusion' is certainly a malfunction... of the pilot's brain.
MDLaird
Mike Laird 1
Do you think any autopilot could have handled this event like Capt. Behnam did?
https://youtu.be/J7_lzeY23dI

I'd far rather fly on his plane any day!
bbabis
bbabis 1
Good pilots are around, but there are less every day. As they are replaced by magenta following wonders that are dependent on the automation, the smart move is to take the magenta following wonders out of the equation. Autonomous is the future but everyone is welcome to jump off the train to the future at any time and remain in the present soon to be past.
mjezierski
In case he hasn't noticed, you can already "rally a plane perhaps using your phone and fly out of your local municipal airport and take this to any place in the country that you want to go." The only difference is that as for now, there is pilot(s) in the aircraft.
mjezierski
Garmin has solved some of the problems he said Reliable Robotics was solving and is putting the solutions in the actual production aircraft: https://discover.garmin.com/en-US/autonomi/
uapilot
David Wright 2
Hey I have a whiz bang Garmin GPS....that locks up from time to time.
mjezierski
And it's FAA approved, isn't it?
doofkcans
John Delphia 1
I'd take tele-operated assistance to landings instead, where a set of local specialists at the airport do the main work of landing the aircraft through something very like a simulator connected to sensors on the airplane, as long as there's still a real pilot riding shotgun in the plane, the telepilots would all be right next to each other to coordinate things and would be familiar with conditions as they would be doing them several times that day and could forsee what could crop up. It would also allow some otherwise disabled pilots to keep working, and they would be fully refreshed and awake.
bbabis
bbabis 1
It's coming and quicker than anybody thinks. After all critical single modes of failure are resolved it will be possible and as dual and triple redundancy take over it will be commonplace. Mechanical failures are rarely the cause of aircraft accidents while pilot failures are the great majority. People don't even think about trusting their lives to automation anymore in numerous ways. It's just that old aviation bug-a-boo that always raises the eyebrows.
leokov
Lee Kovarik 4
A lot of 'pilot error' incidents are the result of the pilot failing to remedy and error of automation, not just a whole cloth human mistake.
bbabis
bbabis 2
In the great majority It's they who created the error in automation due to lack of training and/or understanding. Even if there is an automation glitch it can be handled better by AI. Pilots are often startled and confused by bells, whistles, alarms, etc designed to alert them that something is wrong. AI needs none of that, it simply immediately takes the next proper step to control the aircraft. Unlike a lot of pilots, AI would instantly know power settings and pitch angles that produce the desired flight path if there was conflicting data.
uapilot
David Wright 3
Jesus. Automation is a TOOL for pilots, NOT the replacement. I can fly without instruments BUT they help. So does automation! And to think you’re allegedly an ATP???
jbermo
jbermo 1
. . . . and yet manufacturers continue to add more and more complex automation, mostly likely because they don't trust the pilot.
uapilot
David Wright 3
That’s because they want to sell jets to everyone despite poor pilot standards in many countries!
uapilot
David Wright 1
THIS is absolutely TRUE. Ask Air France. Ask Lion and Ethiopian 737MAX survivors (there aren’t any)
CrtMori
Crt Mori -5
In IFR pilots are anyway not doing much - except drinking coffee and setting the autopilot. Only in unusual situations they are needed to react, but on the other hand: machine might do better. The 737 MAX reference is more example of non-trained crew than a computer glitch, but yes, some will have to die before the systems are finetuned - same as now some had to die for aviation safety to grow.
davidfairchild53
david fairchild 5
I will not be one of the 'guinea pigs'. No pilots, I will not board.
uapilot
David Wright 2
So now let’s put a face on “some will have to die” in your glorious world. Your face? Your spouse, parents, grandparents, siblings, children? Who’s face are you picturing now to sacrifice on the alter of pure automation?
patpylot
patrick baker 1
in actual ifr flight, the pilot is running his senses and his brain and his ears and experience at a high pace- a tiring activity as i well know. It only look like not doing much because this commenter has zero actual hours in ifr conditions, and the pilots he has watched fly under those conditions were too busy to carry on a conversation, except with air traffic controllers. Ifr pilots react continuously, watching the instruments to keep the aircraft on course, in control and within safety. When the autopilot is released, then the real fun starts- the last several hundred feet with possible crummy met conditions. And the landing happens, and simple minded commenters will have something insipid to offer about the landing.

KineticRider
Randy Marco 0
Pilots aren't needed in autoland mode which has existed since the L1011!

.... and taxiing can easily be accomplished with autonomous driving.

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