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Boeing set to start testing self-flying planes

The Independent logo The Independent 21/06/2017 Aatif Sulleyman

© Provided by Independent Print Limited Boeing is set to start testing self-flying planes, the company has revealed.

It says it wants to develop autonomous aircraft, which would be capable of navigating themselves without any input from a human pilot.

Planes can already take off, cruise and land with minimal human assistance, but Boeing wants to go a step further.

It wants artificial intelligence to start making some of the decisions pilots are trusted to make.

"When I look at the future I see a need for you know 41,000 commercial jet airplanes over the course of the next 20 years,” said Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product development, according to Reuters.

“And that means we're going to need something like six hundred and seventeen thousand more pilots. That's a lot of pilots.

“So one of the ways that may be solved is by having some type of autonomous behaviour and that could be anything from taking instead of five pilots on a long haul flight down to three or two, taking two pilots down to one in a freight situation, or in some cases going from one to none.”

The company plans to test self-flying technology in a cockpit simulator this summer, before using it on a real plane next year. 

Airbus is currently working on autonomous flying cars, and will test prototype single-seater flying taxis before the end of the year, ahead of a wider rollout in 2021.

However, while it envisages that its cars would form part of a wider ride-hailing system, like Uber, Boeing appears to be aiming to carry lots of passengers at once. 

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