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AI copilot enhances human precision for safer aviation

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Imagine you're in an airplane with two pilots, one human and one computer. Both have their “hands” on the controllers, but they're always looking out for different things. If they're both paying attention to the same thing, the human gets to steer. But if the human gets distracted or misses something, the computer quickly takes over. Meet the Air-Guardian, a system developed by researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). As modern pilots… (news.mit.edu) More...

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boughbw
boughbw 10
AI service would be great: run the safety videos, run beverage service, taser non-compliant passengers....
jkeifer3
Joe Keifer 18
A fully automated cockpit without a human being in the cockpit would certainly remove human error from the equation but I wouldn't get on board for any reason whatsoever.
tnbriggs
Terry Briggs 9
Well. Airbus' automation didn't help AF447 much, did it? Just like self-driving automobiles -- not ready for prime time yet. And it also seems to me that program defaults (chosen by the programmers) are never what I would choose as a default. Perhaps a lack of understanding of how humans really behave.
boughbw
boughbw 7
Just as bad as the automation failing on AF447 was the absolutely incomprehensible information the cascading failures confronted to three pilots.
skylab72
skylab72 1
I won't do a rehash of the AF447 failure cascade, but whatever your favorite thing to rant about in air disasters, somewhere in that story that thing likely appears.

But, I would like to suggest that regarding flight control systems, Airbus would be well-served to take a page from NASA during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs:
First, man-rate the machine. Then Machine-rate the Man. And Always, fail-safe and fail-soft.

More than that, anyone working on an application whose user interface is in any part dependent on a piece of glass in a glass cockpit, Please become aware of and read Edward R. Tuffte and three of his books. First, "Visual Information", second, "Envisioning Information", and hopefully by then you will be motivated to also complete "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information". Do so and you WILL save lives.
sparkie624
sparkie624 16
For some reason when I think about AI Flying the Airplane I think of the movie Airplane... Let the Automatic Pilot Fly it... LOL
ghstark
Greg S 14
Otto Pilot.
jkeifer3
Joe Keifer 10
Otto had a sly smile on his face for some reason.
jbsimms
James Simms 9
So long as the name isn’t Shirley….
awesomerpower
And orders the lasagna.
nathansthepilot
Nathan Cox 8
What could possibly go wrong? Go wrong? Go wrong? If humanity wants to save itself, we need to stand in unison against AI taking over different rolls in transportation. Whether it’s your Uber driver, bus driver or Pilot, just say “no” to AI.
awesomerpower
Here here.
RWSlater
Ron Slater 14
"I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that right now" Hal 9000
Bayouflier
Bayouflier 12
AI can manipulate zeros and ones, and it can do it really fast. It can solve and remedy cautions and warnings way faster than we can. What it can't do is "understand" the big picture, all of the factors and nuances that come together to make an aviator. Let me know when you figure that one out.
HarrySchluderberg
Keep AI in the lab and off the flight deck. Unless it supplements a two human flight crew.
jkeifer3
Joe Keifer 4
ETOPS may be fine but I still prefer three or four engines AND a full compliment of human beings before heading south Audtralia.
deshoward
Desmond Howard 7
Skin in the game! If you go I go! Not something any automated system is going to be bothered about or it's ground based operator one day when they decide that the redundant element is the human.
SeanAwning
Sean Awning 6
This would be useful for single-pilot aircraft like the Swearingen Metroliner, or like GA if it were affordable.
RexBentley
Rex Bentley 3
What could possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong.... A sucker's bet.
jbermo
jbermo 5
More and more and more added automation - with none of it going away.
jkeifer3
Joe Keifer 5
The more automation in their electronic flight bags the less they will know how to fly their platforms.
RexBentley
Rex Bentley 1
Platform? Somebody ought to tell 'em it's an airplane.
CAH747
A lot of pithy and some correct comments, but put another seat in the electronic control room (cockpit) I'll be gone, but he/she or it is coming
sparkie624
sparkie624 4
If they put AI in the cockpit it needs to be an Aid that can be muted upon command... I do not like this idea, it is opening up a lot of issues.. what happens when that unit fails in use... This is not a good move.. An Autopilot is good, having an AI to make decisions.. Anything Manmade can and will fail... When will the AI Fail and how can it be made to ensure it always "Fails Safe"... To me, they have not proven the technology... Only advantage is... AI's won't need a Drug and Alcohol test because they cannot consume Alcohol or Drugs... Other than that... Of course, maybe they should boot Breathalyzers in all cockpits to double check to make sure that neither pilot is DUI or High!
jkeifer3
Joe Keifer 3
Be careful. I've known ATC facilities where controllers have muted or otherwise eliminated safety alarms or alerts with less than satisfactory results.
ghstark
Greg S 2
This is research people, calm down. Think of it as an enhancement of the envelope protection already present in Airbus aircraft. AI is just a buzzword that media insists on using and that researchers use to lean in to media bias and get the work publicized (and then funded).
Cleffer
Cleffer 1
Yep! Technically speaking, Autopilot is "AI" by today's standard.
sparkie624
sparkie624 2
I think that might be stretching it.. AI is designed to think outside the box like a human is supposed to do (many don't)... An Autopilot is under the direct control of the crew engaging different functions. The Autopilot cannot automatically switch to approach mode without being commanded to do so (or armed first), however, AI Can make those decisions! The closest that I have seen an AI to take over a plane is on the King Air with the new Garmin A/P where when the Pilot(s) are incapacitated, any passenger can press the Autoland Button. It will use the radio to talk to Approach and tower, lower the gear and flaps, and land the plane (hopefully safely in 1 piece). That I will not say is AI Either, because someone has to turn it on in the first place for it to be active.
mbrews
mbrews 1
Disagree. Read the article, you will see the research project scans the pilots eyes and hand movements, to mimic a human response. Put simply, it’s monkey-see, monkey do. some MIT nerds trying to get famous and get federal grants simply because “AI” is the fashion du jour……
CrowleyKenai
Charles Henry 2
BINGO!
linbb
linbb 1
oh wow that really makes me feel good only one human on board of a passenger plane? Count me out for flying that airline too many things a robot cant handle or sense sounds so good until it isnt then you have an airplane full of soon to be dead people.
carrifly
Can’t the same be said for humans. The probability in both scenarios of a catastrophic outcome, is slight. Human regulatory systems change constantly and never totally reliable 100% of the time. More worrying in my opinion, is the ever increasingly overcrowded airspace that’s becoming more problematic despite improved airspace systems. Cheers.
n555cf
rbt schaffer 1
GIGO .... all depends on who and how it gets programmed ... and one day it hits it's learning plateau
earhere
Eric Rasmussen 1
I was surprised by how quickly many commentators conflated the actual subject material of the article with the subject of 'automated cockpit'. In reality, so-called-AI techniques of estimating differences between predicted versus actual best-behavior and back propagation of observed sequential data can be helpful in highlighting, for the skilled and trained pilot's possible intervention or self-correction, 'onboard' disagreements over control. In the absence of a co-pilot, work loads on a single pilot can occur and a virtual co-pilot could be useful in keeping pilot and passengers safe. For examples of using these techniques to evaluate 'auto pilot' systems in automobiles see the following video and paper by Lex Fridman: https://youtu.be/bzn7YEvoUaU?si=OERcF6b5J3BiWVIS
skylab72
skylab72 1
Excellent! This field, most folks refer to as "artificial intelligence", is neither artificial nor particularly intelligent. (Come on. Does the calculator function of your phone do "artificial arithmetic"?) But I am not here to quibble about semantics.

I spent the last half of the 80s hearding DARPA projects and being a liaison between their various stakeholders. We (mostly the brilliant folks I got to work with) implemented (to one degree or another) a dozen or so "AI" technologies and tested them as possible solutions to the DARPA requirements. Neural Networks were clearly shown to be a deep well of potential. In spite of having to build custom "bleeding-edge" hardware to conclusively demonstrate viable solutions to those requirements best served by one of our neural network tools.

One of those was a "context-aware real-time operator augmentation system." We did NOT invent CfC technology, but it is gratifying to see the folks working on similar issues today come up with solutions that have echoes of familiarity with ideas we just did not have hardware powerful enough to implement.
ASuadi
Antonio Suadi 1
Jeeeez....One more system to monitor.
naplespat
Pat Shapiro 1
moot
stansdds
Airlines have been salivating over the concept of single pilot operations. This could eliminate that costly, union member copilot.
onjuku20
onjuku20 1
The best replacement for a copilot would be a good coffee machine.
EMK69
EMK69 1
Hmmmmmmmmmm let me think about this for a second. Bought a new 2022 truck, which only has 11,000 miles on it. All total 5 recalls so far for what they claim are computer issues or parts issues that might, could, maybe cause me to have an accident. Now let me go back and think how many recalls over the past 5-years have the news broadcast on various vehicles.

I mean after all AI is much better since it thinks for itself what could possibly go wrong...MCAS comes to mind but hey it was just a computer glitch and of course, like most Government agencies let's blame the pilots for not being trained enough to overcome a computer.

I'll pass, of course in my world this is mute since I trust no one in that cockpit but myself.
Tflys1
Tflys1 -2
With the new and improved (read woken) FAA will this new AI be gender neutral or will it get upset when I only identify as a male and then lock the pad-bay doors on me?
sparkie624
sparkie624 2
They could always install a Male/Female switch to help it make decision as the desired Gender probably would at the time! LOL
CrowleyKenai
Charles Henry 0
With the 759 available genders these days, you're talking about a panel the size of a small refrigerator.
awesomerpower
Some of you never watched BSG and it shows.
briansfreeman
Brian Freeman 1
Some of us don't even know what "BSG" is... Myself included.

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