The FAA wants to bring the aviation industry into the 21st century, and one particularly terrifying area of their research, announced today, is the possibility of commercial planes that fly themselves. What could go wrong besides just about everything?
The work falls under the umbrella of FAA's NextGen initiative, which looks to update many facets of our aging aviation infrastructure. Boeing subsidiary Insitu is providing the regulators with two ScanEagle drones for testing in New Jersey.
There's a good deal of work that has to be done before the days when a robot pilot will tell you you're free to move about the cabin - drones are currently cleared for flight on a case-by-case basis and are only allowed in restricted airspace. The FAA will be looking at how they can be integrated with existing air traffic control systems and eventually replace some of our more inefficient commercial aircraft.
The FAA will have to quell the concerns of sceptics, like the Government Accountability Office, who released a report on the dangers of integrating unmanned aircraft into commercial aviation last year. Whatever, they're just a bunch of future-haters. [Network World via PopSci]