Airbus “Dragonfly” Project Aims at Integrating Autonomous Technology onto Aircrafts

In an effort to increase flight efficiency and safety, Airbus is exploring a variety of new automated systems. The autonomous technology, known as the DragonFly project by the business, comprises “automated emergency diversion in cruise, automatic landing, and taxi assistance,” according to Airbus.

At the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, an Airbus test facility, the corporation is utilizing an A350-1000 aircraft to evaluate the new features. Airbus UpNext, a division of the aerospace firm that tests new technology before introducing it to a larger fleet, is doing the trial.

It’s no accident that the technology is called DragonFly; according to Airbus, it’s intended to imitate the insect’s capacity to detect specific areas. The goal is to employ this capability to do automatic takeoffs and landings, assist an aircraft with an autonomous taxi before takeoff, and manage emergencies involving potentially incapacitated crew members.

These tests are one of several steps in the methodical research of technologies to further enhance operations and improve safety

Inspired by biomimicry and nature in the same way that dragonflies are known to have the ability to recognize landmarks, the systems being developed are designed to identify features in the landscape that enable an aircraft to ‘see’ and safely maneuver autonomously within its surroundings.”

-Isabelle Lacaze (Head of Dragonfly Demonstrator) 

During testing, Airbus’ experimental aircraft was able to detect and react to environmental factors such as flight lanes, specific terrains, and weather. Autonomously, the aircraft created a new flight route and informed air traffic control and other airport personnel about it. In order to “prepare the next generation of computer vision-based algorithms to advance landing and taxi assistance,” Airbus UpNext is leveraging the data from these testing. Therefore, it’s possible that in the not-too-distant future, an aircraft may have a lot more automated functions than earlier versions.

The French business hasn’t been bashful about highlighting its future planning. Over the years, Airbus has provided funding for several electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) projects, including Vahana and CityAirbus. The business is furthermore collaborating with lidar startup Luminar to identify uses for the 3D mapping capabilities of the laser sensor.

Source: The Verge

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Muhammad Zuhair


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