OPINION

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Autonomous Airplanes

Mar 22, 2022, 6:00 PM

Autonomous airplanes...

Passenger airplane getting ready for flight Photo courtesy - Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY— Would you get on a plane with no pilot?

I’m guessing your reflexive answer is “no” — but there’s a $7 billion bet that your answer will eventually change to “yes.”

The $7 billion is money raised by startups planning to create self-flying planes. Not buzzy little drones. But real airplanes.

It’s far into the future.

But first, this burgeoning industry is biting off a chunk that the public can chew.

They’re creating autonomous aircraft that can help fight forest fires and survey crops. Next up, Axios reports the industry will create cargo planes and drones that can deliver goods to warehouses. Much like trucks do.

And along the way, we’ll get passenger air taxis–little drone planes that will carry you from here to there in places like Vegas and Dubai.

Once all of that finally becomes common and the public learns to relax about it, then comes the passenger jets.

If you could imagine a world where there’s a guy in the cockpit–sure he’s watching all the knobs and dials, but his job is to call the home office if there are problems.

The actual pilot is on the ground in a command center, watching over five planes at once. He’s your friendly captain, hundreds, if not thousand miles away.

But before you say “that’s crazy,” they’re going to spend the next 20 years convincing you that it’s safe.

But even now, the most modern passenger jets you already ride can be programmed -and sometimes do- fly the entire trip, takeoff through landing, without the pilot ever touching the yoke.

Other Minutes of News:

Listen to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. for more of his “My Minute of News.” And check out the podcast below.

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Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Autonomous Airplanes