Autopilots have been used in manned, particularly commercial, aviation for a long time.  They are extensively used in RPAS, with human pilot supervision.  As with manned aviation, automation is being applied to many aspects of RPAS.  Automation specifically to ‘mitigate’ the removal of the pilot from the aircraft is an area which is of major interest.

As with all automation, careful consideration must be given to striking the best balance between automatic function and human control.  There is probably no one right answer in this domain and the optimum balance has to be determined on a case by case basis, dependent on many factors.  One example might be in respect to Detect and Avoid where, under most situations, it might be desirable for a human pilot to approve the best ‘avoid response’.  But at the last minute, inside the latency performance of the communications and decision loop between remote pilot and RPA, the automatic system on board the RPA might be the only option to avoid a collision.

The safety certification of automation and especially artifical intelligence poses challenges.

Further Reading

Artificial Intelligence Roadmap, A human-centric approach to AI in aviation, EASA February Version 1.0 is available for download here.

EASA AI Trustworthiness Guidance: paving the way to safety-related AI certification.  Watch the recording of the fourth FLY AI webinar organised by EUROCONTROL and moderated by EASA here.

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