In the last few weeks I have flown a Cessna 172. I started from Italy for a round the world tour, so far I have reached Iran and I have enjoyed amazing landscapes from the green hills of Lebanon, the many islands in Greece to the deserts of Saudi Arabia. All of this is pretty cheap since I am doing that on a flight simulator (X-11).
Sometimes I find other flight-sim pilots going my way and we can chat over the radio waves and comment that particular approach to a tricky airport (try the Santa Caterina in the Sinai…).
However, I am all alone in the cockpit, and sometimes I am missing a copilot to share the chore of flying (writing the flight plan, looking for the radio contacts on the way, calculating the fuel required, defining the alternate airports, …,) read out the check lists, take over part of the flight.
Now I have discovered that for less than 15$ I can take a copilot along with me in the cockpit: Linda. Linda is an AI powered “plug-in” that can take the right hand seat in several cockpits. In addition to the Cessna she is certified to fly the A319 and A320 and I am pretty sure she will be available to fly several other airplane types.
You can interact with Linda using your voice, exactly as you would do with a human pilot in real life flight.
The amount of technologies converging to deliver this capabilities is amazing. From voice recognition and voice syntheses to real time image rendering to deliver a credible interface. In addition AI is used to interpret the interactions and match them to the context of flying a pane.
Having a copilot is not just a way to have a more entertaining experience, It is also a way to get better and better in flying an aircraft getting guidance from AI. Notice that X-plane 11 embeds an AI fly support, a function that let you handover the control to the simulator and let it keep flying. However, having the possibility of interacting with AI, as it happens with Linda, makes it possible to learn from it.
I am pretty sure that much more will become available in the future and what we are seeing in this flight simulator will become part of many other applications. The long term goal, I think, is to embed continuous education in any activity and create a sort of symbioses between us and the machine that are shifting from being a tool to becoming a partner.