Can AI change aviation with guaranteed safe landings?


Ground-breaking developments in new technology currently taking place at Mälardalen University (MDU) in Sweden may change the aviation industry forever.

Through an innovative project, a solution is being created that will enable the monitoring and control of remote airport runways, using artificial intelligence (AI).

The solution being developed is trustworthy AI systems for remote digital towers (RDTs) or simply AI-controlled assistants. These RDTs can monitor remote traffic flow and capacity management for airports and are specialised in surveillance and identifying risks on runways. They can detect and alert about the presence of hazards such as obstacles in the shape of other aircraft, birds, drones, or human encroachment on and around the runways.

Using a combination of local sensors and video surveillance, the AI system monitors and provides an image of the current conditions on runways, even at remote airfields on isolated islands or in inaccessible areas around the world. During approach and landing, the system can warn of risks and possible problems.

“The developed AI solution will help increase the level of trust in AI systems through adaptive transparency and facilitate air traffic control services in places where human presence around the clock is a challenge,” said Mobyen Uddin Ahmed, professor of artificial intelligence at MDU and project coordinator of TRUSTY.

Rigorous testing

The project, TRUSTY (trustworthy intelligent system for remote digital towers), aims to provide a level of transparency, to clarify how and why an AI system can make decisions to enhance the trustworthiness of AI-powered systems in the context of RDTs.

In the near future, a trustworthy AI system prototype will be developed in the project, that can provide transparency and clear and understandable explanations of their decision-making process. The prototype will be rigorously tested through actual use to verify that it is safe and reliable according to the needs of key user groups.

“The solution can lead to a higher degree of automation in air traffic control services that guarantees safe landing 24 hours a day, even at the most remote airports in the world,” said Shahina Begum, professor of artificial intelligence at MDU.

The project is being financed by European Union’s Horizon 2022 research and innovation programme and is being conducted in collaboration with the Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile, France, Deep Blue Srl and Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy. MDU is coordinating the project.

Jim Cornall is editor of Deeptech Digest and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.