Here’s another step forward toward autonomous aircraft

Jon Lawson

Airbus has completed its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) project. The company has achieved autonomous taxiing, take-off and landing through fully automatic vision-based flight tests using on-board image recognition technology - a first for aviation.

Over 500 test flights were conducted. Approximately 90% of them were dedicated to gathering raw video data, to support and fine tune algorithms, while a series of six test flights, each one including five take-offs and landings per run, were used to test autonomous flight capabilities.

The ATTOL project was initiated to explore how autonomous technologies, including the use of machine learning algorithms and automated tools for data labelling, processing and model generation, could help pilots focus less on aircraft operations and more on strategic decision-making and mission management. The company is now able to analyse the potential of these technologies for enhancing future aircraft operations and aircraft safety.

Airbus will continue research into the application of autonomous technologies alongside other innovations in areas such as materials, alternative propulsion systems and connectivity. The company is planning to open up possibilities for creating new business models that will transform how aircraft are developed, manufactured, flown, powered and serviced.


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