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An autonomous helicopter at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The AV industry has seen $5.8 billion in investments in the first three quarters of 2018 alone. Meanwhile, more than 100 companies tackling the issue of self-flying aircraft have remained under the radar.

The big picture: Any autonomous transport option faces technical, regulatory and consumer comfort issues. Air travel, however, has arguably fewer hurdles ahead than autonomy on the ground.

In AVs, camera and sensor systems need high accuracy in detecting and identifying objects — to differentiate between a fire hydrant, a dog and a child, for example, and respond accordingly. The amount of data they need to process is far greater than what aircraft have to deal with in the open sky.

  • Self-driving solutions will also require improving and expanding road infrastructure. Because available airspace increases with elevation, the sky can accommodate more aircraft flying at multiple levels.

Where it stands: The autonomous air travel industry, much like the AV industry, has its share of big players and innovators, including Airbus, Boeing, Kittyhawk and Alphabet-backed Opener, all of which are actively flight-testing custom airframe designs for safety and reliability.

  • A few players, including SkyRyse and Reliable Robotics Corporation (R2Air), are focused instead on attaching new technology to existing and proven airframes.

Yes, but: Self-flying vehicles face a unique set of challenges. From a technical standpoint, operating in three-dimensional space means reliability and redundancy are critical. "Pulling over” to reset the computer is not an option.

  • Consumers and regulators alike may also be concerned about the safety, economics and environmental impact of autonomous air transport.

What's next: Autonomous flight does not require any fundamentally new technology, so making it a reality is a matter of applying existing technology and establishing regulatory frameworks.

Mark Groden is the CEO of SkyRyse.

Go deeper

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.

21 mins ago - Health

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health workers

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities nationwide.

The big picture: The order comes one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely

Chris Cuomo in 2019. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for THR

CNN announced Tuesday evening that it has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo indefinitely following new revelations about his involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Driving the news: New documents released Monday showed that Cuomo used his contacts to garner information about the women accusing his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment, as well as of emerging media coverage relating to the scandal.