Airbus to Test Advanced Autonomous Helicopter Technology
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Airbus to test advanced autonomous helicopter technology with Flightlab helicopters. This will help simplify mission preparation and management, reduce helicopter pilot’s workload and enhance their safety.

Airbus UpNext, an Airbus subsidiary will manage the new project called Vertex. It has been formed specifically to put future technologies on a development fast track by building demonstrators at speed and scale, evaluating, maturing, and validating new products and services that encompass significant technological breakthroughs.

The latest autonomous helicopter technology will include

  • Vision-based sensors
  • Algorithms for situational awareness and obstacle detection
  • Fly-by-wire for enhanced auto-pilot
  • Advanced human-machine-interface in the form of a touchscreen
  • Head-worn display for inflight monitoring and control.

All the technologies will combine together to deliver a system that can manage navigation, route preparation, automatic take-off, and landing, as well as following a predefined flight path.

Airbus plans to demonstrate these technologies in action in the year 2023. The technology will be a stepping stone towards autonomous flight and will help the Urban Air Mobility program benefit from it. The company wants to move ahead with autonomy, exploring autonomous technologies along with other technological innovations.

This will help the company explore future opportunities to improve aircraft safety and analyze the potential to enhance future operations.

According to Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus,

We are excited by the potential that the Vertex demonstrator project has to offer. By using our platform-agnostic flying laboratory to mature these technologies, we have an agile and efficient test bed that will support the development of future autonomous systems that could later equip Airbus’ current helicopter range and (e)VTOL platforms.