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Tags: Issue 3, 2017

In need of artificial intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, is very much part of the current technology industry zeitgeist. It refers to the ability of computers to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence. An explosion of new AI applications has been driven by the combined availability of large data sets, cheap high-performance computing, algorithmic research and lots of venture capital funding. The people and organisations behind these applications are looking to make greater use of automation in roles historically considered beyond the abilities of machines: think self-driving vehicles, medical diagnoses, legal case study research, human level speech processing and translation and even autonomous flying taxis.

Whilst to many people, AI today means Tesla's car autopilot, Amazon's Alexa or Google's Home, here at Helios we are focussed on near-term applications in the airport and ATM domains. The ability of neural networks, supercharged by deep-learning techniques, offer airports tantalising opportunities to automate many activities. Consider a future airport operation where the airfield is surveilled by a network of cameras, microphones and drones. For example, AI techniques could use this data to manage the monitoring of wildlife, intruders, Foreign Object Debris (FOD) and drones on or around the airfield. They could also power automatic asset management, independently monitor each and every turnaround process, or observe APU usage on stand and underpin automated ground movement operations.

The implementation of AI in the aviation domain is in its early stages, but the pervasiveness of the technology is such that it will become common place. Nevertheless, the benefits of AI for aviation could be limited if we don't get a good grasp of the regulatory, legal and ethical implications, particularly in a safety-critical, regulated industry such as ours. That is why we believe it timely that airports start to grasp the implications and opportunities of AI for their businesses.

Clearly, the potential is vast - as is the hype - which is why the world's biggest technology firms are investing huge sums into building their AI capabilities. At Helios, we understand AI (and know our RNNs from our CNNs!), so if you would like to know how it could impact your airport operation, get in touch.

For further information contact Steve Leighton.

Call us to discuss your next project: +44 1252 451 651

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