Airbus has successfully demonstrated the Autonomous Taxiing, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) of a commercial aircraft through fully automatic vision-based flight tests.
Ably assisted by on-board image recognition technology, the extensive two-year flight test program is a world’s first in aviation.
In total, over 500 test flights were conducted and approximately 450 of those flights were dedicated to gathering raw video data, to support and fine tune algorithms.
A series of six test flights – each one including five take-offs and landings per run – were also used to test autonomous flight capabilities.
According to Airbus, the basis of the ATTOL project was to explore how autonomous technologies – including the use of machine learning algorithms and automated tools for data labeling, processing and model generation – could help pilots focus less on aircraft operations and more on strategic decision-making and mission management.
Though the ATTOL project has reached its conclusion, Airbus will continue research into the application of autonomous technologies alongside other innovations in areas such as materials, alternative propulsion systems and connectivity.
Leveraging such opportunities will allow the European aerospace pioneer to create new business models that could transform how aircraft are developed, manufactured, flown, powered and serviced.
The rapid development and demonstration of ATTOL’s capabilities was made possible due to a cross-divisional, cross-functional, global team comprising of Airbus engineering and technology teams, Airbus Defence and Space, Acubed (Project Wayfinder), Airbus China and ONERA under the leadership of Airbus UpNext.
Image and content: Airbus