One of the key figures formulating Australia’s drone policy has predicted the country will eventually need to use machine learning AI to control our crowded airspace.
Simon Moore, an assistant secretary of aviation safety and future technology at the Department of Infrastructure, said he thinks there will one day be “hundreds of thousands” of drones in the sky.
“The numbers of things that are flying in the sky is going to increase quite dramatically,” he said.
Moore was talking to Australian Aviation as part of a drone special edition set to be published early next month. To subscribe, click here.
In September, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack unveiled the government’s new masterplan to make Australia a world leader in drones and flying cars.
Moore is one of the key figures involved, and believes new technology will radically change the industry sooner than many believe.
“One of the excellent things about working in this space is that we’re not talking about science fiction here,” said Moore. “We’re not talking about hypotheticals. It’s a question of when these things start operating, not if these things start operating.
“To run an air space of tens of thousands or 100,000 objects, machine learning [AI] will make more sense than what we’ve currently got.
“And that’s why the discussion on unmanned traffic management is so important. Because, fundamentally, that’ll be the mechanism, which we as the industry control how these things move around and how they interact with each other and more traditional types of aircraft.”
He also talked up the advent of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL), better known as flying cars or taxis.
“The first trials will be piloted and will probably look a little bit like traditional helicopters, just electrified,” said Moore. “But the economics won’t be there in the longer term – there’s going be a very quick move after that to remove the pilot, as soon as it can be safely done.
“I mean, in terms of when we’re going to start seeing trials, it’s a little bit more difficult. Whether it’s two, three, five or 10 years is anyone’s guess. But they’re the sort of time frames that we’re talking about here.”
You can read the National Emerging Aviation Technologies Policy paper here.