Airbus came up with an autonomous plane. The company uses this to research and develop unmanned technologies. Following an extensive two-year flight test program, Airbus has successfully completed its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) project. Upon completion of the project, Airbus was able to achieve the independent taxiing, take-off and landing of commercial aircraft through a fully automatic, vision-based flight testing using on-board image recognition technology. The company conducted a total of 500 test flights.
Roughly 450 of these were used to collect raw video data, support and fine-tune the algorithms, while during 6 series of test flights, each of which included 5 take-offs and landings, autonomous flight capabilities were tested. The ATTOL project was initiated by Airbus. The aim was to examine how autonomous technologies, including the use of machine learning algorithms and automated tools for data tagging, processing, and model generation, could help pilots pay less attention to aircraft operations. This way, they can focus more on strategic decision-making and mission management. Airbus is now able to analyze the potential of these technologies to improve future aircraft operations, but also increase aircraft safety – ensuring that this level is maintained.
Research will continue, further exploring the use of autonomous technologies among other innovations in areas such as materials, alternative drive systems and connectivity. By taking advantage of these opportunities, Airbus offers the opportunity to create new business models that will transform the development, manufacture, flight, management and servicing of aircraft. According to Airbus, the “rapid development and demonstration” of ATTOL’s capabilities is due to a shared, cross-functional, global team such as Airbus’s engineering and technology teams, Airbus Defense and Space, Acubed (Wayfinder Project), Airbus China and ONERA (French Aviation Laboratory) Airbus UpNext.