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How Artificial Intelligence is Rolling the Blades of Fortune for Boeing

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Since 2015, Airplane Maker Boeing Has Had a Long and Exciting Journey in AI, pursuing the Idea of Creating Self-Flying and Self-Healing Planes

AI is changing the path of air mobility with its rampant adoption among tech giants. With Boeing, AI has taken a quantum jump into the skies—a relatively less-crowded space compared to the roads and tracks. It may take us some more time to believe in AI and IoT driving our cars safely on roads. But with airlines, things are healthier and firmly within the boundaries of faith. The idea of AI flying planes and transporting people and cargo over the skies screams for attention. Today, AI is a modest partner that is helping Boeing scale new heights in the aeronautical industry with an unprecedented emphasis on aircraft maintenance and safety.

It was way back in 2015 when the journey into AI began for Boeing. The company set the foundation stone for the Boeing/Carnegie Mellon Aerospace Data Analytics Lab in Pittsburgh. Costing Boeing roughly over $7.5 million until 2018, the research lab is using data and analytics with AI to help damaged planes land safely. Over the course of time, Boeing has shown how the smart use of AI and machine learning, to work with a deluge of flight data helps in creating safe skies for planes, and build planes that can run with both humans and robots at the wheel.

How is AI transforming Boeing’s Engineering in Building Smarter Planes?

AI is helping Boeing to not just make relatively smarter iterations of passenger aircraft, but also help maintenance teams understand the behavior of each airplane based on its history of flights and component performance. With a single-minded focus on safety and passenger comfort, Boeing’s research team is led by Jaime Carbonell, head of Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute. Jamie’ team works with airline data gathered from various stages of airplane design and construction. The team then integrates these data with the sensors and embedded computers onboard.

What would have been an overwhelming experience just a decade ago is now exciting. The recent advances in AI, machine learning, historical data analysis, language processing and IoT are guiding beacons that ensure that innovation in Air Mobility won’t stop abruptly.

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End-Goal of AI-Powered Airline Industry: Zero Errors and Zero Loss

The end-goal of AI in the airplane industry is to build self-flying planes. The CMU professor goes a step ahead by suggesting the road is open for ‘self-healing’ planes as well. A preventive inspection or maintenance before the actual failure can save money, lives and time.

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While it’s exciting times ahead for AI-powered air mobility industry, Boeing could also raise its position higher by answering these questions in time –

  • Would we see zero human error in flight management with AI?
  • Will we never lose a plane to a break in communications?
  • How much dollars would it take more for Boeing and the AI industry in general to come up with fully-reliable self-flying air taxi?

As we dig for more answers and competitors in the airline industry flying with AI, I hope there  is never an MH370 in the future.

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