The Era of Fully Automated Flights is Drawing Nearer

The flights are powered by technologies developed by Airbus UpNext and controlled through a touchscreen tablet.

01/12/2023 - 10:29
Source: Airbus
Source: Airbus

In line with the project goals under the codename Vertex, Airbus successfully tested their new, entirely autonomous helicopter control type, FlightLab, as reported by Sarbaz.kz, referencing Airbus' official website. These technologies, developed by Airbus UpNext, are managed using a touchscreen tablet.

Before delving into the company's breakthrough success in flight automation, it's crucial to mention the developmental stages of the Vertex project.

In 2019, Airbus Helicopters' division introduced FlightLab, a helicopter designed for test trials. Among its objectives was the integration of new technologies aimed at developing fully automated flights.

By 2021, Airbus Helicopters in Marignane, France, began developing new flight automation technologies, intended to be tested aboard the FlightLab flying laboratory, with future plans to integrate them across Airbus's existing helicopter lineup.

Apart from autonomy technologies, the company scheduled trials for new electrical and power systems, as well as various noise level tests.

Trials for the new autonomy technologies were planned for this year, with their execution announced in November. FlightLab conducted a fully automated flight, including taxiing, takeoff, and landing, managed by a tablet and following a predefined route. Importantly, it's worth noting that if needed, the pilot could interrupt the flight using the gadget and switch to conventional control mode.

"This successful demonstration of fully autonomous flight is a significant step towards reducing pilot workload and enhancing air mobility," remarked Michael Augello, CEO of Airbus UpNext.

These technologies rely on specialized sensors and the use of "artificial vision" programs. In the future, such technologies could contribute to improved visual observation, particularly in urban conditions.

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