Flying - - Sky Next -

Sil­i­con Val­ley has long been in­fat­u­ated with avi­a­tion. But rapid ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy that ap­pear likely to usher in pi­lot­less pas­sen­ger-car­ry­ing air­craft are turn­ing an in­ter­est among tech en­trepreneurs into a seem­ing ob­ses­sion.

At the As­so­ci­a­tion for Un­manned Ve­hi­cle Sys­tems In­ter­na­tional (AUVSI) Xpo­nen­tial show, held May 8–11 in Dal­las, the tech world’s heav­i­est hit­ters, from In­tel CEO Brian Krzanich to Uber avi­a­tion guru Mark Moore, pre­dicted that the on­com­ing era of driver­less cars will un­doubt­edly in­clude fully au­ton­o­mous air­craft as well. The FAA says bring it. “It wasn’t that long ago that we were talk­ing about how drones might be used for aerial photography or pack­age de­liv­ery,” said FAA ad­min­is­tra­tor Michael Huerta. “Now, we’re hav­ing very in­tense and very real con­ver­sa­tions about a day in the not-that-dis­tant fu­ture when a drone taxi might lift you above the rush­hour traf­fic in a dense met­ro­pol­i­tan area and make sure you get to that meet­ing across town on time.”

That’s fine, but we have one re­quest: Make sure to­mor­row’s au­ton­o­mous air­craft are “op­tion­ally pi­loted” so that we can re­main in con­trol if we choose.

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