How Artificial Intelligence Could Lead to Self-Healing Airplanes

by Dominic Basulto, The Washington Post

A new partnership between aviation giant Boeing and Carnegie Mellon University hints at the power of fields such as artificial intelligence and big data to transform huge, multi-billion-dollar industries. As part of a three-year, $7.5 million deal that will establish a new Aerospace Data Analytics Lab, Boeing and the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science will work on a range of new projects that will apply the principles of AI and big data to improving the quality of Boeing’s aerospace activities.

The goal of the new partnership, first and foremost is to make sense of the burgeoning amount of data in the aerospace industry. “Recent advances in language technologies and machine learning give us every reason to expect that we can gain useful insights from that data,” says CMU Language Technologies Institute director Jaime Carbonell. He notes one application of machine learning could yield a process in which CMU and Boeing can ascertain when planes require maintenance and fix problems before they arise.

The new lab is one of several expanding CMU efforts to tap AI’s potential, according to CMU computer science dean Andrew Moore. Other applications he cites include robots that clean up hazardous sites and robot arms that can pick up a cup of coffee without spilling.

Moore says the Boeing project seeks to move the industry closer to self-healing aircraft, or the use of “evidence-based predictions of what may not be working right tomorrow, to enable preventive inspection or replacement before a failure, and hence to lower costs of coping with real unscheduled failures and to increase safety.” Moore notes as AI advances it could provide advice to humans so they can build better models of the world based on new machine-learning algorithms.  Read the full article.

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