Airbus UpNext DragonFly Demonstrator enters final three months of testing phase

Taking its inspiration from “the incredible vision and intelligent flight capabilities of the dragonfly,” the Airbus UpNext DragonFly demonstrator has now entered the final phase of testing.

Inspired by the “wonderful, natural world” – in this case, the iridescent insect with characteristically large eyes – the DragonFly demonstrator is the latest Airbus design to take its cues from biologically-inspired engineering, or ‘biomimicry’.

Billed as a “game-changer when it comes to derisking emergency operations,” the innovative DragonFly systems draw heavily on the ability to ‘see’ and identify features in the landscape (much like its biological namesake, which can see in 360 degrees). Focusing on “three key areas,” the DragonFly technology promises to offer “an additional layer of safety for aircraft,” especially in the context of emergency operations.

In the same way that dragonflies can recognise landmarks that help them to define boundaries, our demonstrator is equipped with cutting-edge sensing technology and software, capable of managing in-flight and landing operations,” explained Head of DragonFly demonstrator Isabelle Lacaze.

With automation key on the agenda, DragonFly is being developed to offer an automated landing option in the unlikely event of pilot incapacitation, using a “system that combines sensors, computer vision algorithms and robust guidance systems”. The technology can also be used to ease the workload on pilots in critical situations, as well as helping crew manage taxi guidance on the ground.

DragonFly has now moved into the final three months of its testing phase, enabling the Airbus UpNext programme to “update or confirm the technology with the view to integrating improvements into future programmes”. More information can be found here.

A variety sensors allow DragonFly to ‘see’ in 360 degrees and identify elements in the surrounding landscape. (Airbus)

Author: FTN Editor

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