Airbus mulls single-pilot flights as Artificial Intelligence could enable autonomous planes

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Skift Take 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.

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12 awesome flying cars and taxis currently in development

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These flying cars want to take your commute to new heights

We were promised that the future would bring flying cars, right? We were. And the good news is that tech entrepreneurs around the world are finally getting started on creating what are commonly known as VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing, pronounced vee-toll) vehicles designed at car size.

Of course, no one is ready for flying cars quite yet. There’s no infrastructure to support them, and a whole new set of auto laws would have to be drawn up to regulate them (like personal drones, but a thousand times worse). The first commercial VTOLs we will see won’t be hanging out at the local auto dealer—they’ll be taxi services built to shuttle people from part of a city to another.

Here’s all the current projects that want to put you in the seat of a flying car.

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Japan is getting serious about flying cars

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The country’s once-envied government skunk works has set its sights on speeding up the arrival of aerial taxis and trucks.

Japan often appears stuck in yesterday’s vision of tomorrow. Flip phones are common enough that they’re cited as the exemplar of a phenomenon called Galapagos Syndrome, referring to the country’s tendency to stick with technologies endemic only to its islands. Another anachronism, Yahoo, remains wildly popular. Tokyo of the 1980s may have inspired the futuristic cityscape of Blade Runner, complete with flying cars, but the fax machines that were cutting-edge when the film came out remain ubiquitous tools today.

Ensuring Japan doesn’t fall behind the technological curve has for decades been the job of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, a powerful agency housed in a squat modern office block in Tokyo’s orderly government quarter, a few blocks south of the jagged moat surrounding the Imperial Palace. The building is orthogonal in every respect, a uniform stack of concrete threaded with long, featureless corridors. The bureaucrats here guided Japan’s postwar economic miracle, a boom that gave the world the transistor radio, the Walkman, and the Prius—and almost no transformative innovations since. None of the automakers championed by METI are today on the leading edge of robotic driving. For the most part, Japan’s faded tech companies can’t lay claim to either smartphone or internet greatness.

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Boeing’s flying car has taken off

Boeing’s Driverless Flying Taxi Completes Test Flight.

A Boeing Co. flying car designed to whisk passengers over congested city streets and dodge skyscrapers completed its first test flight on Tuesday, offering a peek into the future of urban transportation the aerospace giant and others are seeking to shape.

A prototype of its autonomous passenger air vehicle completed a controlled takeoff, hover and landing during the test conducted in Manassas, Virginia, the maker of military and commercial jets said in a statement Wednesday. Propelled by electricity, the model is designed for fully autonomous flight, with a range of as much as 50 miles, Boeing said.

The Chicago-based plane maker and arch rival Airbus SE are among a slew of companies racing to stake a claim on flying cars and parcel-hauling drones, which have the potential to be the next disruption to sweep the aerospace industry. Boeing’s push was boosted by a 2017 acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences, whose projects include a new flying taxi it is developing with Uber Technologies Inc.

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Airlander 10: prototype of world’s longest aircraft retired

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The Airlander 10 in flight at Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire in 2016.

UK firm behind plane-airship hybrid says it will ‘rethink the skies’ to build new model.

A prototype of the world’s longest aircraft, the Airlander 10, will not be rebuilt but engineers are set to “rethink the skies” with a production-ready model.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the Bedford-based company that created Airlander 10, has already received Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval, and it is hoped the new airship model will take to the skies by the early 2020s.

“Our focus is now entirely on bringing the first batch of production-standard, type-certified Airlander 10 aircraft into service with customers,” said Stephen McGlennan, the company’s chief executive.

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Flying cars could take off as soon as 2023

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The Bell Nexus hybrid electric air taxi concept is on display at the Bell booth at CES International

From a one-person flying car to a luxurious five seater, companies are racing to launch the first flying car.

LAS VEGAS — While CES attendees are still quite a few years away from being able to hop in a flying car and travel to the annual technology show, several concepts displayed at the 2019 event this week provided a glimpse of what the future could look like.

That starts with hailing an Uber copter — possibly as soon as the mid 2020s. At CES, Textron’s Bell division, a partner in the Uber Elevate flying car initiative, showed off its new air taxi concept called the Nexus.

While it may fly, make no mistake, the Nexus looks more like a car than an airplane. The concept uses six tilted fans to aid in takeoffs and landings, which are powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system. Inside the vehicle, four passengers and a pilot can see their flight path projected onto a screen.

Uber has said it’s planning to roll out its air vehicles by 2023 in certain cities, targeting the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Los Angeles as its first domestic markets.

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What Honeywell’s Ecommerce platform means for blockchain in aviation

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Honeywell recently announced the launch of its online buying and selling platform for new and used aircraft parts. Not only are online transactions in this space extremely rare, but Honeywell is also doing something even more uncommon: using blockchain technology. According to Lisa Butters, who leads the Honeywell Aerospace venture, “Currently, less than 2.5 percent of all transactions in this space are done online.” She continues: “We are the first marketplace to enable customized seller storefronts, and we are the first to leverage blockchain technology to build trust between the buyer and seller.”

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Boeing unveils rendering of hypersonic jet that would fly from US to Japan in 3 hours

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  • Boeing unveiled a rendering of its first-ever design for a hypersonic passenger plane.
  • But questions remain about how much Boeing is willing to spend to develop the project.
  • Technological challenges remain and costs could be high, which raise questions about the potential profitability of the plane.

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The 10 most intriguing inventions of 2018

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From programmable pills to power-generating boots, here are some of the most unusual technological innovations we covered this year.

We are all about emerging technologies here at Tech Review—including those that might never make it past the “emerging” stage. Here are some of the more recondite inventions we have covered this year, many of them plumbed from the arXiv, the pre-publication academic paper database.

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Flying taxis help business travellers escape the gridlock

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A number of innovative small business aircraft are on the drawing board, but the future of these projects depends on investors and their propensity for risk

We’re on the cusp of the genesis of a new category of business travel, the ultra-short-haul market. Urban congestion is driving innovators to reach for the stars or at least as high as the layer of underutilised airspace sandwiched between the rooftops and the altitude beneath commercial airline traffic.

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Bell says latest helicopter was designed 10 times faster with VR

Bell Helicopter challenged its Innovation Team to accelerate its aircraft design process. Turning to VR as a key improvement to their design pipeline, the team created the FCX-001, the company’s first “concept aircraft,” in just six months.

Typically it takes five to seven years to design a helicopter, according to a case study published by Bell and HTC. Within that period there’s typically multiple iterations being explored between draft drawings, pilot testing, and focus groups. Thanks to VR, the FCX-001 ended up taking less than six-months to create, Bell says.

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The wild new passenger jet with no middle seats, ever

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Fast and fierce: The Embraer E190-E2, nicknamed the Profit Hunter, is part of the E2 family of regional jets, which encompasses the E175-E2, E190-E2, and E195-E.

(CNN) — There’s a shark on the runway.

No, it’s not some nightmare scenario brought about by severe flooding, but a real-deal Embraer E190-E2 aircraft, painted up in a special great white shark livery.

In recent months, this ferocious flier has been turning heads and starring in travel Instagrams from the Maldives to South Africa while on a world tour and in October, it was spied at Nepal’s Kathmandu-Tribhuvan International Airport following a fly-past of Mount Everest.

Nicknamed the Profit Hunter, this is the show plane for Embraer’s E2 family of regional jets, which encompasses the E175-E2, E190-E2, and E195-E2, and it’s stealing some of the attention that’s lately been lavished on its competitor, the Airbus A220.

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