RelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Derby County want Jordon Ibe EPL: Gunners gun for West Ham scalp Aston Villa have ensured their Premier League survival by draw 1-1 with West Ham on the final day of the season.Villa had only earned promotion back to the Premier League last season following a three-year absence with victory over Derby County in the lucrative Championship play-off final at Wembley. Dean Smith’s side struggled back in the top-flight despite a £130 million summer transfer outlay amid injuries sustained by key players such as John McGinn, club-record signing Wesley and Tom Heaton, and had looked likely to make an instant return to the second tier.However, key recent home wins over Crystal Palace and Arsenal sandwiched between a hard-fought draw at Everton – in which they were denied another victory only in the 87th minute – breathed new life into their previously flagging survival bid.That run of seven points from three matches – featuring some crucial goals from Egyptian forward Trezeguet – meant Villa exited the bottom three for the first time since February and entered the final day of the season with their fate in their own hands.Tags: Aston VillaDerby CountyWest Ham United
But stories of pilot drunkenness, rants, fights and distraction, however rare, are reminders that pilots are only human. Not every plane can be flown by a disaster-averting pilot, like Southwest Capt. Tammie Jo Shults or Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. But software could change that, equipping every plane with an extremely experienced guidance system that is always learning more.In fact, on many flights, autopilot systems already control the plane for basically all of the flight. And software handles the most harrowing landings – when there is no visibility and the pilot can’t see anything to even know where he or she is. But human pilots are still on hand as backups.A new generation of software pilots, developed for self-flying vehicles, or drones, will soon have logged more flying hours than all humans have – ever. By combining their enormous amounts of flight data and experience, drone-control software applications are poised to quickly become the world’s most experienced pilots.Drones that fly themselvesDrones come in many forms, from tiny quad-rotor copter toys to missile-firing winged planes, or even 7-ton aircraft that can stay aloft for 34 hours at a stretch. When drones were first introduced, they were flown remotely by human operators. However, this merely substitutes a pilot on the ground for one aloft. And it requires significant communications bandwidth between the drone and control center, to carry real-time video from the drone and to transmit the operator’s commands. Many newer drones no longer need pilots; some drones for hobbyists and photographers can now fly themselves along human-defined routes, leaving the human free to sightsee – or control the camera to get the best view.University researchers, businesses and military agencies are now testing larger and more capable drones that will operate autonomously. Swarms of drones can fly without needing tens or hundreds of humans to control them. And they can perform coordinated maneuvers that human controllers could never handle.Whether flying in swarms or alone, the software that controls these drones is rapidly gaining flight experience. Citation: Your next pilot could be drone software (2018, April 19) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-drone-software.html Could humans control these 1,218 drones all together? Importance of pilot experienceExperience is the main qualification for pilots. Even a person who wants to fly a small plane for personal and noncommercial use needs 40 hours of flying instruction before getting a private pilot’s license. Commercial airline pilots must have at least 1,000 hours before even serving as a co-pilot. On-the-ground training and in-flight experience prepare pilots for unusual and emergency scenarios, ideally to help save lives in situations like the “Miracle on the Hudson.” But many pilots are less experienced than “Sully” Sullenberger, who saved his planeload of people with quick and creative thinking. With software, though, every plane can have on board a pilot with as much experience – if not more. A popular software pilot system, in use in many aircraft at once, could gain more flight time each day than a single human might accumulate in a year. As someone who studies technology policy as well as the use of artificial intelligence for drones, cars, robots and other uses, I don’t lightly suggest handing over the controls for those additional tasks. But giving software pilots more control would maximize computers’ advantages over humans in training, testing and reliability.Training and testing software pilotsUnlike people, computers will follow sets of instructions in software the same way every time. That lets developers create instructions, test reactions and refine aircraft responses. Testing could make it far less likely, for example, that a computer would mistake the planet Venus for an oncoming jet and throw the plane into a steep dive to avoid it. The most significant advantage is scale: Rather than teaching thousands of individual pilots new skills, updating thousands of aircraft would require only downloading updated software.These systems would also need to be thoroughly tested – in both real-life situations and in simulations – to handle a wide range of aviation situations and to withstand cyberattacks. But once they’re working well, software pilots are not susceptible to distraction, disorientation, fatigue or other human impairments that can create problems or cause errors even in common situations.Rapid response and adaptationAlready, aircraft regulators are concerned that human pilots are forgetting how to fly on their own and may have trouble taking over from an autopilot in an emergency. In the “Miracle on the Hudson” event, for example, a key factor in what happened was how long it took for the human pilots to figure out what had happened – that the plane had flown through a flock of birds, which had damaged both engines – and how to respond. Rather than the approximately one minute it took the humans, a computer could have assessed the situation in seconds, potentially saving enough time that the plane could have landed on a runway instead of a river.Aircraft damage can pose another particularly difficult challenge for human pilots: It can change what effects the controls have on its flight. In cases where damage renders a plane uncontrollable, the result is often tragedy. A sufficiently advanced automated system could make minute changes to the aircraft’s steering and use its sensors to quickly evaluate the effects of those movements – essentially learning how to fly all over again with a damaged plane.Boosting public confidenceThe biggest barrier to fully automated flight is psychological, not technical. Many people may not want to trust their lives to computer systems. But they might come around when reassured that the software pilot has tens, hundreds or thousands more hours of flight experience than any human pilot.Other autonomous technologies, too, are progressing despite public concerns. Regulators and lawmakers are allowing self-driving cars on the roads in many states. But more than half of Americans don’t want to ride in one, largely because they don’t trust the technology. And only 17 percent of travelers around the world are willing to board a plane without a pilot. However, as more people experience self-driving cars on the road and have drones deliver them packages, it is likely that software pilots will gain in acceptance.The airline industry will certainly be pushing people to trust the new systems: Automating pilots could save tens of billions of dollars a year. And the current pilot shortage means software pilots may be the key to having any airline service to smaller destinations. Both Boeing and Airbus have made significant investments in automated flight technology, which would remove or reduce the need for human pilots. Boeing has actually bought a drone manufacturer and is looking to add software pilot capabilities to the next generation of its passenger aircraft. (Other tests have tried to retrofit existing aircraft with robotic pilots.)One way to help regular passengers become comfortable with software pilots – while also helping to both train and test the systems – could be to introduce them as co-pilots working alongside human pilots. Planes would be operated by software from gate to gate, with the pilots instructed to touch the controls only if the system fails. Eventually pilots could be removed from the aircraft altogether, just like they eventually were from the driverless trains that we routinely ride in airports around the world. Explore further Would you be – or feel – safer if one of these people were a robot? Credit: Skycolors/Shutterstock.com Would you get on a plane that didn’t have a human pilot in the cockpit? Half of air travelers surveyed in 2017 said they would not, even if the ticket was cheaper. Modern pilots do such a good job that almost any air accident is big news, such as the Southwest engine disintegration on April 17. Provided by The Conversation This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. UK pilots warn of disaster, seek tougher rules for drones
Credit: University of Texas at Austin Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Summer is fast approaching here in Texas, and even if it is a mild one, it will be hot. Once again we’ll walk from our air-conditioned houses to our air-conditioned cars to our air-conditioned parking garages to our air-conditioned places of work. Americans ramp up use of solar, wind energy Provided by University of Texas at Austin Citation: Why this summer might be a test for the Texas electric grid (2018, April 30) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-summer-texas-electric-grid.html All that AC comes at a cost, however. A big cost. During the hottest parts of the summer, nearly 50 percent of the total output from all power plants in Texas goes toward powering air conditioners. About this time each year, some people question whether the Texas grid will be able to supply the power we need to get through another tortuous summer. This year, some are worrying more than wondering.There is a lot of change happening right now: coal plants retiring, solar panel tariffs delaying solar projects, constrained capacity leading to higher prices. Should we be concerned about it? Maybe, maybe not. Coal is on the decline in Texas. There is not a single new coal plant under construction. Certain environmental regulations make it more difficult to build new ones, but we wouldn’t be building them even if those regulations didn’t exist. In fact, we are moving the opposite direction and retiring a significant portion of the Texas coal fleet. The average coal plant in Texas is more than 30 years old, and many in the fleet were built in the 1970s. Some are likely to soon need substantial capital investment just to keep running. Other technologies available today—natural gas and wind—have established themselves as lower-cost options. In fact, some of the biggest coal utilities in Texas are heavily invested in these new cheaper and cleaner alternatives. Just as the Texas summer is inevitably on its way, so is Texas solar. The grid is expecting to triple the amount of large-scale solar during the next few years. A few projects might be delayed because of the solar tariffs that President Donald Trump has imposed, but the overall effect will be minimal, perhaps raising the cost of solar electricity by one-tenth of a penny.The prime locations for wind and solar in Texas are out west, with the best wind near Lubbock and the best solar close to Big Bend. Lucky for Texas, the state completed a massive transmission line project in those areas a few years ago. In doing so, it allowed us to build so much wind that we now rank No. 1 in the U.S., and No. 7 in the world, in terms of overall renewable energy production. Recent coal plant retirements mean that supply will go down, and thanks to our booming Texas economy, electricity demand will be up. Our modeling projects higher yearly average prices this year but also show that trend reversing next year, as more wind and solar come on line. So, high prices shouldn’t be a long-term problem. In fact, prices have been at historical lows for years because of the low cost of natural gas, and, to a lesser extent, large amounts of wind.Long term, the era of large centralized power plants appears to be drawing to a close. The market is changing, and other technologies—such as wind and solar, and soon, energy storage—are lining up to play every larger roles.This summer might be the toughest test our grid has faced in a while, but early analysis indicates we will get by. The high prices will send a signal to the market for what kinds of resources need to be developed, and that is how the market is supposed to work: out with the old and inefficient, and in with the new.