The aerospace industry has begun seeing a similar trend as the car market, where automakers are investing in or acquiring autonomous driving startups. Plane manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing Co. are racing to develop artificial intelligence that will one day enable computers to fly planes without human beings at the controls.
Last week, Airbus agreed to set up an innovation center in China’s Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. The facility will help accelerate research needed to chart the future of air travel, and China will provide Airbus an opportunity to design and develop such technologies, Eremenko said.
“I think the general aviation space in China is just opening up,” Eremenko said in Hong Kong. “There’s an opportunity for China to sort of take a leap ahead as it has been prone to do in other areas and design the aerospace system, design the regulatory regime to be future looking, forward looking to enable urban air mobility.”
The Toulouse, France-based company is also exploring technologies that will bring more automation to the cockpit of planes that could help resolve shortage of pilots in countries like China, which is set to emerge as the world’s biggest aviation market in less than a decade.
Discussions are on with Chinese companies such as Baidu Inc. to find ways to apply self-driving vehicles to the aviation industry, Eremenko said.
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