Many experts say that AI has enormous potential and will no doubt change the way we live and it won’t surprise you to learn that aviation is one of many sectors that currently use AI. Machine learning is nothing new and over the years, we have developed AI to the point where it can do things that we, humans, are incapable of.
Machine Learning: AlphaGo
As a good example of machine learning, the supercomputer, AlphaGo, a creation of Deep Mind, a small tech startup group in London, was launched in 2016 and actually managed to beat the 18-time world Go champion, Mr Lee Sedol by 4 games to 1. The ancient Chinese game of Go has more possible moves than there are atoms in the known universe, which gives you some idea of the complexity of this board game. Experts predicted that we would reach this level around 2030, yet here we are, in 2021 with very powerful machine learning algorithms that will exceed anything humans have ever done.
AI & the Aviation Industry
While many believe that AI is capable of flying commercial airliners, the paying public would never fly in a plane that does not have a human pilot in the cockpit, which is perfectly understandable. However, AI does play a major role in air traffic control, as demonstrated here in the solutions for aviation from Tambla, who are a leading specialist software provider.
This is one area that AI can really help; imagine trying to work out the employee shits for a busy international airport, with the many variables such as skill level, number of hours worked and even job fatigue. The AI system can accurately delegate all the work, saving the airport money by eliminating double handling, and AI even manages the complex baggage belt delivery system, thus ensuring that passengers are quickly reunited with their luggage.
A large airport would have thousands of employees, all working shifts, which gives the airport manager a constant supply of skilled labour and AI is helping the specific software that manages airport staff. This is a very complex area, as weather delays cause havoc with the flight schedule and things change by the minute and having AI helps the management make split second decisions regarding the allocation of the workforce. Indeed, AI will play a role in designing airport systems of the future, which will be able to process far more passengers than we do currently.
AI is perfectly capable of running a global ticketing network, keeping all the travel agents up to date regarding flight seats and availability. For the huge airlines, this is a very powerful feature, indeed, they would have AI specialists monitoring the AI all the time and today, it is possible to buy an air ticket without meeting a human and before long, the check-in staff will be replaced by robots, which does beg the question, what are all the people going to do when we have machines to do everything? Click here for information about how traffic and technology are merging.
The auto-pilot feature on a commercial aircraft is a form of AI, as the onboard computers fly the aircraft according to all the data that has been fed into the system. Of course, the pilot is able to take control at a moment’s notice, but it is not rare to find that during a 12-hour flight, the pilot was in control for less than 15 minutes, mainly take-off and landing.
Eliminating Human Error
It is hoped that AI will remove human error from the loop, making flying safer and the next generation of aircraft might look very different to the classic 747 Jumbo jet. Pilot error is one of the main causes of air accidents and with AI present to assist the pilot, much of the stress will be taken away from the human by AI.
Airport management would use cutting edge software to manage every aspect of the airport, including air traffic control, luggage logistics and workforce management. This enables the airport manager to make the very best use of available resources, which is especially important during busy times.
AI is already designing the next generation of airports and we can expect to see machine learning have more influence on all aspects of commercial aviation, which will make flying even safer than it is today. There are those who warn of potential danger with AI and all parties agree that there should be some form of regulation concerning AI and this is the subject of debate withing the machine learning community.
Artificial Intelligence is here to stay and the great thing about machine learning is there’s no limit to what can be learned, as AI uses all data to increase its knowledge.