Airbus acknowledges that the "explainability" of artificial intelligence is an impediment to getting regulators to sign off on certain products. Passengers will definitely need some very good explainers, too.
Though autopilot is not a new technology, Airbus’s Chief Technology Office Grazia Vittadini said the company is hoping current advances in artificial intelligence will help complete the step to completely autonomous planes.
“That’s what we’re looking into, artificial intelligence, to free up pilots from more mundane routines,” Vittadini said in an interview with Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty at Munich’s Digital Life and Design conference Sunday.
Currently, the company is working on moving to single-pilot operations, with full autonomy coming later.
Airline executives, though reluctant to speak on the topic, would benefit from autonomous planes as they seek to cut costs and handle ongoing shortages of qualified pilots — two issues that could be addressed by efficiency improvements pilot-less planes would provide.
The biggest challenge for planemakers like Airbus is convincing regulators to approve the technology, Vittadini said.
“Explainability of artificial intelligence is a real challenge for us when it comes to the certification of products,” she said.
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Photo credit: Will Artificial Intelligence lead to autonomous planes. Airbus thinks it could. Pictured is the cockpit of an Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. Bloomberg