Honeywell starts flight tests to refine sensor technology that will guide vehicles to land autonomously

UAV landing ©Honeywell

Honeywell has begun in-flight testing of sensors that will guide urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles to land without pilot intervention. Aircraft involved in the testing are outfitted with Honeywell sensors and include cameras that analyze visual markings resembling QR codes, which help guide the vehicle to a designated landing spot. This is a key first step for the future of flight as Honeywell adds sensors that support safer, autonomous urban air mobility operations.

Testing of these sensors is currently underway to gather data and refine their capabilities to support future autonomous landing capabilities. Data collection was compiled in Arizona using Honeywell’s AS350 helicopter, and additional testing is planned in collaboration with Honeywell’s partners. This milestone in testing furthers the initiative to achieve cleaner, safer and smarter aircraft and signals important progress to the goal.

As testing and data collection move from proof-of-concept prototypes to reality, there are many benefits to improving navigation and implementing features such as automatic landing. With more automatic features and processes, pilot workloads will ease and critical maneuvers during intense phases of flight will become easier and safer. Operations may also benefit from the strategic use of autonomous landing, making vehicle throughput more predictable and reducing turnaround time. Passengers ultimately can benefit from the improved reliability, safety and comfort of smoother autonomous landing practices along with more reliable transportation schedules.

Honeywell’s data collection work will continue for the rest of 2020, with the demonstration of fully automated landings taking place within roughly the next 12 months. When fully developed and tested, these solutions will be the latest addition to Honeywell’s rapidly expanding UAM product portfolio.

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