Focusing a bit this week on ground operations relating to unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”).
Not only is there a real possibility of UAV-dedicated airports developing around the nation, but automation seems to be all the buzz throughout the aviation infrastructure, even in commercial operations.
Forget TacoCopter, Israel Aerospace Industries has rolled out (quite literally) “TaxiBot,” a semi-robotic, pilot-controlled tractor that transport aircraft from the gate to the runway, reports say.
Meanwhile, a Honeywell-Safran joint venture is promoting an electric aircraft taxiing system with tangible environmental benefits.
Many airports already feature unmanned or driverless trains or rail systems and it seems inevitable and natural that airplane ground operations are the next phase of autonomous or semi-autonomous operations. The new age of “autopilot” is upon us and the “sky” seems no longer to be the limit on aviation automation.
How this will impact insurance or potential legal liability claims when and if an accident occurs will be a work in progress, apparently. Do not forget that taxiing accidents are not as rare as they should be in this age of humongous airplanes like the A38 – even with cockpit cameras. It seems, for now, that the pilot in command is still, well, in command.