Tech Company Sees Autonomous GA Aircraft

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Forget that shiny new octocopter, a Bay-area startup wants to make your Cessna 172 autonomous. XWing says it has created "plug and play" software that can make most light aircraft fly autonomously. Details on how it works have not been released but the technology will revolve around "sensing, reasoning and control," according to aviation tech website TransportUP. It will also work on helicopters and multicopters but its designer sees its main benefit as making GA accessible to the masses. According to XWing founder Marc Piette the key is getting rid of pilots. “Getting a license and maintaining proficiency even on a single [-engine] aircraft type is time consuming and challenging,” he said in a post on his website. “Removing the need for a pilot will have a significant impact in opening up the aviation market.”

Piette says that by eliminating pilots more people will be attracted to aircraft ownership and that will increase demand for small planes. The higher volumes will reduce production costs and make GA aircraft more affordable, Piette theorizes. “We see a bright future where people and places are ever more connected, where small aircraft can finally take their rightful place in the transportation landscape, and where autonomous flight will have a profound impact on society as we know it,” he wrote. Apparently some investors are seeing that bright future as TransportUP is reporting XWing has attracted $4 million in initial investment, including some from Microsoft.

Comments (8)

I'd Rather Be Flying

Posted by: Mark Fraser | August 5, 2018 9:00 PM    Report this comment

Are these people OD'ing on opiods?
OH ... they're from the Left Coast ... and from "The City,", too ... sorry !!

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 5, 2018 10:57 PM    Report this comment

Sorry, I don't see this working out anywhere in the near future. Who is acting as PIC, who is responsible when something goes wrong? How would the FAA ever approve this?

Drones carrying packages is one thing, but certifying any type of air vehicle carrying passengers Is going to be a enormous hurdle to get over.

Posted by: Phil Nelson | August 6, 2018 3:28 PM    Report this comment

Given the challenges faced by autonomous cars in a simpler 2D environment, I don't see this succeeding any time soon. Not in an unpiloted people transport, anyway.
Military drones in a controlled environment is a different thing!

Posted by: Cameron Garner | August 6, 2018 4:03 PM    Report this comment

Designing an autonomous control system for an airplane is a far easier assignment than is designing one for an automobile.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | August 7, 2018 1:55 PM    Report this comment

What's next? Autonomous golf clubs.

Posted by: peter whelan | August 8, 2018 10:46 PM    Report this comment

Is it April 1st already?

Posted by: Michael Dean | August 10, 2018 9:06 AM    Report this comment

Who wrote this article, Jime Bede or Vern Raburn?

Posted by: Marc Rodstein | August 12, 2018 1:57 PM    Report this comment

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