Developed by Airbus UpNext, these technologies are controlled using a touchscreen tablet, aiming to simplify mission planning, reduce the workload on helicopter pilots, and enhance safety.
During a one-hour test flight, Airbus Helicopters’ FlightLab operated entirely on autopilot, covering lift-off, taxi, takeoff, cruise, approach, and landing along a predetermined route.
A pilot observed the system throughout the flight, to identify unexpected obstacles and automatically adjust the flight path for safety. If needed, the pilot can easily take control through the tablet, overriding the automated system and then continuing the mission. The testing occurred from October 27th to November 22nd at Airbus Helicopters’ facility in Marignane, France.
Michael Augello, CEO of Airbus UpNext, said:
“This successful demonstration of a fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing is a great step towards the reduced pilot workload and simplified HMI that the Airbus Urban Air Mobility team intends to implement on CityAirbus NextGen. It could also have immediate applications for helicopters in low level flights close to obstacles thanks to the information provided by the lidars on board.”
This successful test marks a significant advancement in developing technologies for autonomous helicopters, offering potential improvements in efficiency and safety.
Image credit Airbus