A question you have most likely not been asked at a dinner party yet, but you soon will be is. ‘Have you been in a driverless vehicle yet?’ Whether it is a car, a bus or a tiny shuttle service at an airport, we are all destined to put our lives in the hands of computer software in the very near future.
The reality of course is that we already have, many times before. That is because auto pilot technology already does most of the work once a plane has taken off and it has no trouble landing an airliner either, even in rough weather or limited visibility. It has been able to do this for years.
Airlines that are keen to cut costs are now questioning whether they really need two pilots on board every plane, with some asking if they need any pilots at all. Boeing is currently working on completely autonomous commercial airliners that take-off and land themselves.
At the end of November this year, Airbus also outlined plans for a future of flight with no pilots on board. The current shortage of pilots is only expected to worsen in the coming years as many approach retirement age and advances in automation are encouraging the European aircraft maker to develop technology that eventually will remove human beings from the cabin.