Autonomous Passenger Planes Might Not See All That Many Passengers, Study Shows

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 interior 1 photo
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They say the only safe jobs a few years from now will be the ones that can't be done by robots. That means that major in Journalism might finally pay off, but there are a lot of other people who won't be so lucky.
With autonomous cars just around the corner (or not?), it's becoming increasingly clear that controlling any type of vehicle is not a safe way to make a living in the long term. Cars, trucks, tanks, ships, and airplanes - they will all have AIs smart enough to perform the tasks currently covered by the drivers/pilots.

However, having the technology isn't everything, you also need the people willing to put their lives into the imaginary hands of a silicon chip, and that's something you can't get overnight. In fact, we might need a generation or two to pass until we can speak about a widespread adoption of the AI-controlled vehicles.

Even though flying on a commercial jet is a lot safer than driving in a car, people seem to be even more reluctant to the idea of a pilotless plane than to that of a driverless car. The Verge points out a survey from the Swiss Bank and UBS on whether people would be willing to travel in an autonomous plane if the fares were cheaper. Out of the 8,000 who answered, more than half said "no."

Only 17 percent of the respondents said they would be willing to do it, but we have the feeling even they wouldn't be so brave if actually faced with the opportunity. The results vary depending on country of origin and, most importantly, age, with those in the 25-34 bracket being the most likely to do it.

The paper points out that removing the humans from the cockpit would translate into savings of $30 billion per year for the airlines which should be reflected in the ticket price as well. The authors believe that, much like the trucks on the road, cargo airplanes will be the first to make use of this technology, followed by air taxi services, business jets, and only then the commercial passenger flights.

The survey doesn't give us a clear timeline of when the change might occur though, so if you're part of the vast majority that isn't too happy about the idea, there's still some time left to go see the world in the riskier, more expensive human-piloted airplanes.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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