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Airbus commences automatic taxiing R&D project

Airbus’ R&D division, Airbus UpNext, commenced testing last month on a new project to develop automatic taxiing and enhanced pilot assistance.

According to Airbus, the three-year research project, called Optimate, will combine a wide range of technologies including advanced automation, computer vision, data fusion and machine learning (AI) to improve aircraft navigation systems and the human-machine interface.

A key objective for Optimate is to develop and test automatic taxiing based on more accurate and reliable position calculation, to include ‘quantum sensing’ to improve position availability and navigation system robustness.

Quantum sensing analyses changes in motion, electric and magnetic fields at the atomic level. It’s called quantum sensing because it uses quantum resources – delicate phenomena that are apparent only on an atom-sized scale – to achieve this extreme accuracy.

Collecting data at the atomic level allows quantum sensors to make technological devices exponentially more accurate, as well as removing the potential for signal jamming and other electromagnetic interference, as is increasingly common with today’s satellite-dependent global positioning system (GPS) devices.

Another objective of the Optimate project is to investigate the capabilities of a collaborative map and virtual flight assistant to support pilots’ strategic decisions and interactions with air traffic control and airline operations centres.

The Optimate project is using a test bed electric truck that replicates the key functions of an A350 flight deck to test the new architecture and algorithms, featuring advanced automation technologies such as the latest generation of LIDAR and external cameras, combined with inertia and GPS technologies, satcom and 5G.

The final phase of the project will be to use the virtual assistant during a fully automated gate-to-gate mission on an A350 flight test aircraft.

“We are delighted to unveil another innovative demonstrator that reflects our unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of aviation. Our ambition is to use the best technologies to make our aircraft even more aware of their operating conditions, analysing it in as much detail as possible to become smart and reliable assistants to pilots, providing them with the optimal assistance. We are confident that this project will contribute to safer and more efficient air travel,” said Michael Augello, CEO Airbus UpNext.

Image credit: Airbus

Author: FTN Editor

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