Project Bluebird

Exploring AI for air traffic control

Project Bluebird

Project Bluebird brings together the Alan Turing Institute and NATS for a second time, to explore further what role artificial intelligence (AI) can play within air traffic management (ATM).

The Alan Turing Institute and NATS started working together in 2018, applying data science to the complex airspace above the UK, highlighting a fundamental and specific need to build knowledge of how AI can add value to ATM.

The collaboration has enabled a single team environment to embrace new research opportunities, such as data study groups and hackathons, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to find new perspectives on the challenges of ATM.

Automation underpins many areas of ATM, supporting air traffic controllers (ATCOs) with a wide variety of tasks, but modern advances in AI are changing the face of what is possible.

As part of this new strategic partnership between NATS and the Alan Turing Institute, Project Bluebird is a government-funded research project to deliver the world’s first AI system capable of controlling a section of airspace in live trials, working with ATCOs to help manage the complexities of their role.

The research will utilise digital twinning and machine learning technologies and includes tools and methods that promote the safe and trustworthy use of AI, with significant resources dedicated to the technical and regulatory aspects of using AI in a safety-critical environment.

Potential benefits

Increased automation

Reduced workload

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