Ultra high-definition 4K cameras, AI and machine learning technology installed at Heathrow airport could cut flight delays during bad weather by up tp 20 per cent. Technology installed at the west London airport's control tower will help air traffic controllers (ATCs) track aircraft when visibility is reduced. AI is learning to interpret the images and track aircraft, flagging when aircraft have safely left the runway and speeding up subsequent arrivals. Officials say the technology will be particularly useful at night, as the highly sensitive cameras will let controllers to see the airfield as if it was dusk rather than complete darkness. Heathrow has the highest airport control tower in the UK at 285 feet (87 metres), but this means it can be surrounded by low cloud even when the runways are clear.
London City Airport will be the first in the UK to replace a traditional air traffic control tower with a "digital" one. A new, 50-metre tower will be built in the middle of the airport's long-stay car park, overlooking the runway, with 14 cameras and two custom pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The combined 360-degree footage will then be fed to a facility in Swanwick, Hampshire, where NATS, the UK's lead air traffic control provider, is already based. Operators will then monitor the live video on 14 HD screens, positioned in a circular formation to replicate a conventional tower. Airport management says the digital version will give controllers better oversight of the runway.
Cranfield University has announced plans for a world-leading Professorship in Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence at the University, sponsored by BAE Systems, a technology leader in this field. The Professorship will be a research leadership role at the University, bringing together research in UAV's, Space and artificial intelligence (AI) adding to Cranfield's leading reputation in the fields of autonomous systems and AI. Advances in machine learning, high-performance computing, data science, multimodal sensing, and control are merging together to create enormous opportunities for intelligent, autonomous, or semi-autonomous systems. Such artificial intelligence systems are starting to achieve cognitive abilities such as language, attention, and creativity, promising to improve the safety and efficiency of systems for space technology and increasingly autonomous systems in aerospace and aviation. Julia Sutcliffe, Chief Technology Officer, BAE Systems Air, said: "Autonomous systems and artificial intelligence have the potential to provide a substantial positive impact upon product, service, and industrial capabilities.
The air traffic management service NATS has begun a trial to understand whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be used to help reduce flight delays. A project is now underway, within NATS' bespoke Digital Tower Laboratory, at Heathrow Airport to test whether a combination of ultra HD 4K cameras along with state-of-the-art AI and machine learning technology can be used to help improve the airport's landing capacity in times of low visibility and improve punctuality. Heathrow's 87 metre tall control tower is the highest in the UK and provides commanding views of the airport and surrounding landscape, but its height can also mean it disappears into low cloud, even when the runways below are clear. In those conditions, where the controllers have to rely on radar to know if an arriving aircraft has left the runway, extra time is given between each landing to ensure its safety. The result is a 20% loss of landing capacity, which creates delays for passengers and knock-on disruption for the rest of the operation.