This week UK-based EasyJet announced that it’s been working with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and two companies to create a fleet of drones that will help speed up aircraft inspections. The unmanned vehicles are programmed to go over their Airbus A319 and A320 planes and report on anything unusual that might require another set of (presumably human) eyes. EasyJet executive Ian Davies says that with their help, “[c]hecks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy.” Tests should begin in the next few months, and if they are successful, the drones could appear as early as next year.
What’s the Big Idea?
It’s one of several new technology-based initiatives the airline has taken on in an attempt to improve their business. Bristol Robotics Laboratory aerial robotics head Arthur Richards thinks the drones could do a lot of good: “Coupled with smart navigation and computer vision, they can get accurate data from really awkward places.” EasyJet is also looking into the use of virtual reality glasses that, when worn by a pilot or engineer, would allow a remote team to see what they see and offer diagnoses.