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Boeing and SparkCognition constructing air traffic system for autonomous planes

Boeing is collaborating with artificial intelligence technology company SparkCognition to develop unmanned aircraft system traffic management solutions.

Boeing and SparkCognition say they will use AI and blockchain technologies to track unmanned air vehicles in flight and allocate traffic corridors and routes to “ensure safe, secure transportation”.

Through the collaboration, they will also provide a standardized programming interface to support package delivery, industrial inspection and other commercial applications. 

Boeing HorizonX Ventures previously invested in SparkCognition to support its development of a cognitive, data-driven analytics platform for the safety, security and reliability of data technology.

Amir Husain, founder and CEO of SparkCognition, says: “Estimated by some analysts at $3 trillion, the urban aerial mobility opportunity will lead to the creation of the largest new market in our lifetimes.

“The world’s number one aviation leader partnering with the world’s most innovative industrial AI company means that unparalleled experience in safety, innovation, scale, and reliability will be brought to bear to address this monumental opportunity.”

To help advance UTM and next-generation travel, and evolve the transportation ecosystem, Boeing is standing up a new organization, Boeing NeXt.

It will leverage Boeing’s research and development activities and investments in areas such as autonomous flight and advanced propulsion, as well as focus on modeling smart cities and exploring new market opportunities to solve for the transportation challenges of the future.

Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief technology officer, says: “We’re at a point in history where technological advances and societal trends are converging to demand bold solutions and a different way to travel.

“Boeing has the experience and expertise to safely and efficiently shape this emerging world of travel and transport. Through Boeing NeXt, we intend to build on our legacy of opening up new frontiers to move people and goods with proven technologies.”

To reimagine how products and people move around the world, Boeing is pursuing technology development in emerging fields, including AI and hybrid and fully electric propulsion, that will help ensure safe, efficient flight.

In a new video, the company outlines how these enablers will come together with digital systems to make the introduction and integration of autonomous and piloted air vehicles a reality.

Steve Nordlund, who will lead Boeing NeXt in addition to his role as vice president of Boeing HorizonX, says: “By taking a holistic approach that combines Boeing’s strength in technological innovation with new business models and nontraditional partnerships, we are laying the foundation for the future commercial mobility ecosystem.

“We are shaping the physical and connectivity infrastructure to ensure new air vehicles safely operate in the global airspace.”

The Boeing NeXt portfolio will include the recently unveiled passenger-carrying hypersonic concept, as well as electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles that will provide on-demand cargo transport and urban air travel in the future mobility ecosystem.