As technology is advancing, could robots take over pilots' jobs? If so, how might they accomplish this?

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    $\begingroup$ Sure, someday. Then we just need to wait for teleporters and we'll take planes away from robots starting the robot revolution. This is how the apocalypse starts. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 27 '16 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ Theres a new Video from an Aviation Channel I like: youtube.com/watch?v=03HOFVS3r70 He wants to tune the Piper to start, taxi and fly autonomically. $\endgroup$ Oct 30 '16 at 15:46

It's already in the works. Fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles are no less than 10 years away. I'd say that the major airlines will follow in 10-15 years, most likely starting with the elimination of the First Officer with fully automated functions. Similar systems will be introduced, and most likely before the airlines on corporate jets.

It will be fought tooth and nail by the pilot unions, but sooner or later the algorithms these AI pilots use will become increasingly sophisticated to the point that there will be another incident similar to that faced by US Airways 1549 where an AI is under control and makes a decision saving the crew and passengers where 97% of all human pilots who, when faced with an analogous situation, failed resulting in a catastrophic accident. Thus public confidence will be bolstered in these systems and public opinion will sway in their favor - even demanding these systems will be on board. All that's required at that point is flights operated by AI are 40% more efficient and 63% more likely to be on time without interruptions of service due to weather, crew fatigue, etc. At that point the first experimental, totally unmanned commercial flights will happen, probably after the corporate jets lead the way.

Military wise a similar thing is bound to happen as ACM algorithms improve, making super maneuverable drones which are capable of defeating Red Flag instructor pilots 97% of the time and more and more years of confidence built on the AI systems both in peacetime exercises and in conflicts will finally eliminate the manned fighters and bombers.

Perhaps the last vestiges of manned flying will be in general aviation and remote bush flying for commercial reasons (the revenge of GA?), but even these will slowly be eliminated as AI controlled aircraft and infrastructure capable of allowing off field landings and takeoffs, even in the most remote or difficult places come online.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but how can robot planes fight head to head with human piloted planes. The sky is 3D, up down left right, missiles guns and weather changes, stall, observations and more. $\endgroup$ Oct 27 '16 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ Depends on how sophisticated one can write the algorithms to control this. If you watch that NOVA program I referenced, you will see that such things are under development. In some ways an AI could have a major advantage over piloted aircraft in a merge as they have far more precision in their timing in maneuvers and often the first turning maneuvers can mean the difference between victory and defeat. $\endgroup$ Oct 27 '16 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielChung A robotic fighter aircraft going head to head with a manned aircraft has a significant advantage in that it can maneuver at much higher G loads than a human pilot can withstand. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Oct 28 '16 at 1:08
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    $\begingroup$ This answer makes some very bold claims without much evidence, like that unmanned pilot technology will likely be deployed on airliners in 20-25 years, that a pivotal near miss will hasten the adoption, and that AI will eventually replace virtually all pilots. If you want this to be the accepted answer, please provide evidence or citations for such extraordinary claims. For expected levels of evidence see meta.aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/333/… $\endgroup$
    – Cody P
    Oct 28 '16 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of numbers, without proves. You claim that pilots are causing 63% delays and weather as example? That doesn't make sense. Furthermore your missing the wishes of the passengers and regulations. US Airways 1549 is a good example for a situation where an computer will likely rely on pure failsafe-code or even don't believe on a two-engine-out-scenario without a technial reason. And you cannot predict what an AI would do, including sacrifice passengers for habitants or vice versa. Good example for what an pilot is good for is also LH 1829: avherald.com/h?article=47d74074/0000&opt=0 $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Oct 28 '16 at 9:15

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