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Airbus flies a fully automated helicopter with a tablet

November 27, 2023  By Helicopters Staff

Photo Credit: Airbus

Multinational aerospace corporation Airbus says it has successfully tested a new simplified human machine interface (HMI) along with advanced autonomous features through a project code-named Vertex.

The technologies, developed by Airbus UpNext, are controlled by a touchscreen tablet and aim to simplify mission preparation and management, reduce helicopter pilot workload, and further increase safety, Airbus officials said in a Nov. 27 news release.

According to Airbus, the Airbus Helicopters FlightLab flew fully automated from lift-off, taxi, takeoff, cruise, approach and then landing, during a one-hour test flight by following a predefined route – during the flight, the pilot monitored the system, which can detect unforeseen obstacles and automatically recalculate a safe flight path.

The flight test period ran from the Oct. 27 to Nov. 22 at the Airbus Helicopters facility in Marignane, France.


“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,” said Airbus UpNext CEO Michael Augello. “It could also have immediate applications for helicopters in low level flights close to obstacles thanks to the information provided by the lidars [light detection and ranging] on board.”


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