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Autonomous Plane Takes Off with Passengers, Cargo

By ZDNet

August 31, 2020

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As autonomous cars roll out in testbeds around the world, it should come as no surprise that other kinds of vehicles are ditching their human operators as well. The latest innovations include airplanes, and one company's pilotless debut hints a future of pilot-less air transport.

The company, Xwing, has now performed numerous passenger-carrying autonomous take-off to landing flights in its modified Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, a first in aviation with this category of aircraft. The company has been operating in stealth as it targets regional passenger and cargo operations within a 500 mile range. 

Unmanned drones have now long been a part of the aerial landscape, but drones aren't the only kind of self-driving aerial vehicle regulators have been dealing with. It may seem a foregone conclusion that self-driving cars are on the way, but we've heard less about autonomous aircraft. That's changing. Following recent crashes related to failures in autonomous systems on-board Boeing's 737MAX, you might expect consumer confidence to have eroded significantly. However, a recent ANSYS study found that wasn't the case. In fact, 70% of consumers say they are ready to fly in autonomous aircraft in their lifetime. 

More recently, several companies have debuted air taxis, which promise to whisk passengers above traffic en route to their destination.


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