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Software Science

DARPA Advances AI Program For Air Traffic Control 142

coondoggie writes to tell us that DARPA has taken the next step in a program that aims to utilize artificial intelligence for the purposes of air traffic control. "GILA will also help Air Force planners use and retain the skills of expert operators, especially as they rotate out of the Air Force. DARPA says the artificial intelligence software will learn by assembling knowledge from different sources — including generating knowledge by reasoning. According to a Military & Aerospace item, such software has to combine limited observations with subject expertise, general knowledge, reasoning, and by asking what-if questions."
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DARPA Advances AI Program For Air Traffic Control

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  • No way (Score:1, Interesting)

    by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @04:14PM (#22382760)
    I don't trust people to do this job, so why the hell would I trust a computer?
  • How about.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MadUndergrad ( 950779 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @04:37PM (#22383050)
    How about we replace the TSA with AI? It couldn't possibly do worse than the current bunch of goons.
  • Re:No way (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @04:42PM (#22383116) [] - Because computers don't always tell planes the right thing.
  • by ( 1108067 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @04:44PM (#22383142) Homepage Journal

    Before trying something as ambitious as routing airplanes, why not see if they can route luggage?

    1. If it doesn't work, it can't get much worse than the current situation
    2. So terrorists hack the system - and your luggage actually ends up where its supposed to go for a change!
    3. Try crashing a Samsonite into a scyscraper ...
  • Im in favor of this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Monday February 11, 2008 @04:46PM (#22383178) Homepage Journal
    First off, given the political nature of the FAA this system won't be live anytime during the next few decades, maybe not even during your lifetime. Secondly, ATCs are among the most stressful jobs you can actually do. The burnout rate on your average controller is insane, even with their extensive mandatory vacations and shift rotations. They're also getting harder and harder to replace and train as the number of airplanes in the sky increases with each year. It certainly won't be any less stressful once ADS-B is finally deployed and the inter-plane distances are decreased to increase the number of birds sharing the airspace.
  • by rlglende ( 70123 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @05:02PM (#22383340)

    Current ATC is a centralized system, and has scaled poorly. Proof is the very many 'near misses' due to ATC mistakes every year.

    The combination of Global Positioning, "broadcast your vector" and some rules could allow every aircraft to handle its own flight plan, including landing and landing order.

    I had that idea 25 years ago, heard that the FAA was investigating it maybe 10 years ago. Nothing since.

    Another technology that will put too many experts out of work, so it won't happen.

  • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @05:24PM (#22383606)
    "PP242, please expedite your descent to 8000"
    "PP242, please expedite your descent to 8000"
    "PP242, please expedite your descent to 8000"
    "PP242, please expedite your descent to 8000"
    "PP242, please expedite your turn to 120"
    "PP242, please expedite your turn to 120"
    "PP242, please expedite your turn to 120"

    I wonder if Microsoft plans to upgrade its ATC to not require 90 degree turns to make a one mile course correction. Or how about that wonderful scenario when you overshoot your waypoint and have to turn around and go back to it before the ATC will let you continue. Same for step climbing to cruise altitude. I don't fly real planes, so maybe real life ATC is just as anal, but man, it's a game; make it fun!
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:43PM (#22384456) Homepage
    maybe real life ATC is just as anal,

    In general no, they're not. Mind, if you keep messing up, expect the FCC to invite you in for a little chat about that. (Indeed, as pilot-in-command you can refuse ATC instructions and ask for different ones, but you'd better have a flight-safety reason to back that up.)

    It's been a whle since I flew as pilot, but on commercial flights that have it I like to listen to the radio chatter on the headphones, it's usually more interesting than any of the music channels or the inflight movie. The ATC folks are usually a polite, friendly bunch -- it lowers the stress level for everyone -- and they'll suggest and accomodate requests for avoiding turbulence, better routing etc. Understandably when things start to get busy (a storm closes an airport and alternates start to get backed up, etc) they can get a little terse.

    Side note: I recall reading in an aviation safety bulletin that the most common last words on a cockpit voice recorder, next to "oh, shit", were "was that for us?". Possibly apocryphal.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming