Boeing to use blockchain to power unpiloted cargo flights

The boom in cargo flights is leading Boeing to turn to the blockchain…

A generation of pilots could be out of a job after aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced plans to use blockchain and AI to cut costs and speed up cargo flights. Blockchains will be used to track packages across the globe, and allow for regulators and inspectors to get fast, easy access to commercial records, said Boeing.

Air traffic routes are already heavily congested and are predicted to get much worse. The number of regular passengers is expected to increase to 7 billion by 2035, and the continued boom in online shopping and e-commerce is driving ever more cargo flights into the sky.

A recent study by SEO Aviation Economics notes that the average flight travels 30 miles further and lasts 10 minutes longer than it should do, because of the number of planes in circulation. Companies are hoping the combination of blockchain and AI will solve this problem.

To that end, Boeing has announced a tie-up with AI developer SparkCognition to help it allocate safe traffic routes and track unpiloted aircraft in flight.

“We’re at a point in history where technological advances and societal trends are converging to demand bold solutions and a different way of travel”, said Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s CTO.

“Boeing has the experience and expertise to safely and efficiently shape this emerging world of travel and transport.”

The use of drones for individual package deliveries is also being developed by Amazon, under the moniker of Prime Air. Their hope is that in the future you will be less likely to meet a delivery driver at your door than a friendly flying robot.

Given the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s aversion to private drone use, it could be some time before your latest online purchase is delivered through an upstairs window by a whirring, beeping drone.

Commercial airlines are subject to even more stringent rules, but there is space to improve current practices.

Boeing’s development team, Boeing NeXt, says the firm is building a series of next-gen machines which include electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, which could enter tightly-controlled city airspaces to deliver packages to customers.

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