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Following latest air disaster, some wonder about pilotless planes

Would pilotless planes for commercial use be feasible?
By: Michael Hatamoto | Science, Space & Robotics News | Posted: Apr 1, 2015 5:11 pm

Airlines might not be thinking about pilotless airplanes for commercial use, but the technology seems to be there to make it happen. Following the recent tragedy of Germanwings, in which the co-pilot allegedly steered the plane into a mountain, has helped add fuel to the fire of autonomous flight.




Even though flying has become significantly safer in recent years, human error leads to around 80 percent of plane crashes, according to Mary Cummings, former US Air Force pilot and current engineering professor and director of the Duke University Humans and Autonomy Lab. In addition, planes already are fairly autonomous, with human pilots actually only flying a few minutes per flight.


Realistically, many air passengers probably aren't ready to fly on a pilotless flight, with reliance on human pilots - sharing their fate in the air - along with a pilot available in case the autonomous system fails. It's a discussion that we may get to enjoy hearing about more in the future, especially after major air crash events.


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