Will Artificial Intelligence fly our planes?

Although there is already on-board automation on commercial airlines which carry out certain tasks, AI will eventually help pilots handle diverse situations and actually act as an ‘artificial pilot’.

The SMARTAP research programme – a collaboration between the Institute of Aerospace Technologies at the University of Malta, and QuAero Ltd – is a project which will give artificial intelligence (AI) the possibility of helping pilots to fly commercial planes.

Currently, when incidents occur and aircrafts’ sensors fail, it is up to the pilots to manually handle the situation.

If the aircraft enters an ‘abnormal state’ and the pilot is not capable of fixing the situation, the aircraft may end up crashing and killing the passengers. Last March, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed, killing 157 people.

Read: Ethiopian Airlines flight crashes, killing 157

AI is set to aid pilots in these scenarios by computing different assessments and protocols instead of the pilot. It will also be responsible for monitoring weather forecasts from different sources and airports, which is currently being carried out by pilots.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are already being used in different fields, such as voice recognition in smartphones, facial recognition in security cameras, and automatic control of driverless cars.

This €195,000 SMARTAP project is being financed by the Malta Council for Science & Technology, for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology.