back to article Boeing borgs robot aeronautics biz Aurora Flight Sciences

Boeing is to snap up manufacturer of advanced aerospace platforms Aurora Flight Sciences, in a bid to further expand its autonomous portfolio. Aurora is a US aeronautics research company which specialises in the designing and building special-purpose unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous systems, in particular systems that …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    Pah! Easy...

    > Last month Boeing offered $2m (£1.49m) in prizes to anyone who can design and build a working “personal flying device."

    Personal flying device ... easy.

    Personal landing device ... a bit harder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pah! Easy...

      "Personal landing device ... a bit harder."

      "If you can walk away from a landing, it's a good landing. If you can use the airplane (or personal flying device) the next day, it's an outstanding landing."

    2. cmaurand

      Re: Pah! Easy...

      Actually, yes. Really easy. Computers have been landing aircraft for a long time. I was on a Lufthansa flight back in 2000 that landed by itself and it was smooth as silk. It's driving it after it's on the ground and bringing it to a stop in a crosswind that's the really hard part.

      This is still decades away. There isn't an AI in the world that would be able to make the decisions that Scully did to put that airliner in the Hudson River thereby saving everyone on board. Water landings rarely go well as it is.

  2. Cynic_999

    Will not gain acceptance

    It would be far easier to make driverless trains which have far fewer variables that need to be controlled, but apart from a few short local services (e.g. airport shuttle transport) this has not been done, mainly because of public fear & distrust.

    Unmanned commercial airliners have already been flown in a few test situations, and of course the military uses unmanned drones, but what is technically possible is a far cry from what would be deemed acceptable to carry passengers.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Will not gain acceptance

      "It would be far easier to make trains". I still wonder why the US is still more or less the only country without fast trains in the world and still the perfect country to use them. So often in reality faster easier and a lot more comfortable to travel in.

      1. Mark 85

        Re: Will not gain acceptance

        Why? A bit complex and one would need to delve into the Teamsters Union history as well as the auto/truck manufacturers history. A lot of short sighted deals were made in the past.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Will not gain acceptance

        Too democratic. You have to sit next to (or at least nearby) other classes of people on a train. Far better to spend vast sums of money on highways where I can drive my shiny new car to display my superiority over those around me.

        Sure, air travel has mingling of classes, but the poorest among us can drive or ride the train, they can't fly. Plus there's that magic curtain between first class and cattle class.

      3. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Will not gain acceptance

        Because we're idiots.

        They say passenger trains don't make money, but then that's because they don't run them where people want to go.

        I've been trying to use trains to avoid all the pain of flying but I literally can't get to anywhere west of Louisiana from Florida, unless I want to do an 11-day trip that visits Wash DC and Chicago, just to go from Orlando to Phoenix.

        1. John Gamble

          Re: Will not gain acceptance

          For what it's worth, train travel has improved a lot in the twenty-five years I've been using it, even though the Chicago - Detroit and Chicago - St. Paul lines are not as heavily used as the East coast lines.

          But the improvements have been in the cars and the amenities, not in the infrastructure needed to support high-speed lines, in part because of the cut-my-nose-off politics of certain state governors who refused federal money.

          (Travel time has improved, but that's due to elimination of delays, not to speed-up of the trains.)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Will not gain acceptance

        I still wonder why the US is still more or less the only country without fast trains in the world and still the perfect country to use them.

        History. At the end of WW2 there was a surplus of concrete runways, transport aircraft, pilots. Railways at that time were slow and uncomfortable. Air travel wasn't encumbered by security theatre, aircraft and runway utilisation wasn't high enough to cause the interminable delays of today (though I'm sure individual aircraft reliability was far, far worse). Put simply, for the longer distances in the US, flying in the 1950s and 60s was much faster and more comfortable. Add in a lot of lower value land than in Europe, and building wide highways wasn't such a problem either.

        Given the financial distress of the railroads, why would anybody have invested in US rail between 1945 and 2000? With the congestion at airports and the sheer unpleasantness of flying these days, its easy to say that high speed rail would be a better experience, but if there were money to be made then you can be sure that somebody would be throwing bribes at Congress, and if there isn't why should federal or state governments subsidise a loss making new rail link?

      5. mediabeing

        Re: Will not gain acceptance

        Really? You wonder why? Are you not aware of the vast number of greedy corporations that control the American governments (federal, state and local)?

        The 'citizens united' law gave the corporations the ability to own the majority of politicians in the USA.

        Evidently, the corporations have decided that, right now, it's more profitable for them to have Americans crawl across the territory, consuming gasoline, cars and tires.

        In reality, faster trains are being planned and designed for the US right now.

        Ever heard of Elon Musk? He has this plan for super high speed trains traveling in near vacuum.

        It's being implemented both in the USA and elsewhere.

        I recommend reading more reports online.

    2. Francis Boyle

      Re: Will not gain acceptance

      You mean like these. Most of them are not airport shuttles or the like.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, Aurora you say...

    Where have I heard that before?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like