Thursday, March 18, 2010

"ALGORITHMS: NASA proposes new air traffic control system"

Air traffic control costs the U.S. over $40 billion per year at 5,000 public airports managing 40,000 flights a day. Delays at airports now account for $19 billion in unnecessary operational costs and $12 billion in lost time for passengers. Now NASA says it has a way of reducing those costs by increasing the efficiency with which air traffic controllers avoid delays by 20 percent. Look for shorter delays and smoother running airports within five years. R.C.J.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sponsored engineers at the Oregon State University (OSU) to design a more efficient air-traffic control system for commercial aircraft. The new system uses smart computer agents to make recommendations to air traffic controllers on how to reduce congestion and avoid bottlenecks, but leaves it up to human experts whether to implement the suggestions. The current system of shepherding flights to the correct flight paths and runways at the airport would remain in place the same way it is today, but the automated agent would use artificial intelligence to gather information about delays and weather on other flights that could affect an air traffic controller's decisions, making appropriate suggestions to remedy bottlenecks.
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