Boeing, an aircraft manufacturing company, is planning to purchase Aurora Flight Sciences—a company that specialises in making aviation parts and automated drones. This is a well-calculated step that will help in bringing greater automation to military drones, airliners and air taxis (for personal use) too.
According to Greg Hyslop, Chief Technology Officer and Senior VP at Boeing Engineering, Test & Technology, there will be advancement in the autonomy and development of two company’s military and commercial systems due to the amalgamated innovation and strength of the teams.
John Langford, Aurora’s Founder and CEO, said that his company’s products— Autonomous Electric Vertical Take-Off Aircraft, Robotic Co-Pilots and Long-Endurance Aircraft—will be transformed into one of their best forms to support the global infrastructure.
Acquisition of Aurora is clearly indicative of the fact that world’s largest aircraft maker views automation as aviation’s future. Hyslop said that it’s difficult to predict the direction of future, but they know the direction where the vector was pointed. They want to reap the benefits of technology as it matures, and they wish to use that in their products. Until now, Boeing just had an autonomous submarine and a few drone projects to show up, but now the company wishes to venture into autonomous technology.
The plans to adopt automation for commercial flights came as a reaction to the possibility of experiencing a dearth of pilots in the coming future. An estimate of 637,000 pilots will be needed over the next 20 years according to Boeing.
In order to ensure maximum safety of passengers, Boeing will efficiently incorporate artificial intelligence and sensing technology. It is easy to acquire such high-end technologies, but it is difficult to convince people that autonomous aircrafts are safe. In a recent UBS study, it was concluded that only 17% of flyers said that they were okay to fly in a pilotless flight.
The acquisition of Aurora will enable Boeing to share the XV-24A—an air-taxi prototype designed by Aurora for Uber’s Elevate program. Although, there have been many prototypes and demonstrations with regards to electric flying air taxis, but only a few have been backed by the biggest aerospace companies around the world.
Airbus, the European competitor of Boeing, has successfully developed small aircraft technology through A3 (the Silicon Valley unit). Moreover, the company is in the midst of developing Project Vahana—personal, single-seat flying vehicles.
Boeing has decided to develop 797, a next-generation passenger airliner. Aurora’s technology may or may not appear on this new plan. All in all, the combined power and strength of two companies would impact both commercial as well as defence produ