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Can AI make airplane food better?

Answer: It’s trying.

We can all agree that we don’t book plane tickets for the food, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be good. A number of airlines have turned to a popular technology to try to improve in-flight meals: artificial intelligence.

Air New Zealand, for example, has been trialing a system that photographs meal trays when they’re collected after service on its route between L.A. and Hong Kong. An AI analyzes those images to determine what people want to see more or less of based on what they left behind on their plate. “For example, AI has revealed quantities of blue cheese and beetroot hummus were often left on the plate, so we will shortly swap out these ingredients,” said Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Ravishankar.

A similar system is being used by aircraft company Airbus as well as catering company LSG Group, imaging trays before they’re thrown away and then analyzing the images with AI. And popular Dutch airline KLM is using AI to predict which passengers will miss a connecting flight, so those meals don’t have to be put on the plane in the first place. And it appears to be working — after three months of use, KLM reported a 63 percent reduction in food waste.