Honeywell Aerospace has started flight testing new sensors intended to support autonomous operations of aircraft in urban air mobility (UAM) environments. From its base in Phoenix, the company is using an Airbus AS350 helicopter to test the sensors, and the aircraft is also fitted with cameras to analyze visual markings that look like QR codes to guide it to a designated landing area.
Earlier this month, Honeywell launched a new Unmanned Aerial Systems business unit to focus on unmanned aircraft and the UAM sector, for which numerous new eVTOL models are under development. It intends to conduct additional testing of autonomous flight technology with partners that include eVTOL developers such as Vertical Aerospace.
The flight testing will continue throughout 2020 and gather data on the performance of the sensors to support further improvements. Honeywell aims to be able to demonstrate fully automated landings by around mid-2021 as it prepares to add this capability to its product portfolio.
“Introducing numerous piloted and autonomous aircraft in dense urban environments is a real challenge in making the UAM vision achievable,” commented Matt Picchetti, Honeywell’s v-p and general manager of navigation and sensors. The company is leveraging its experience in developing autopilots.
This story comes from the new FutureFlight.aero resource developed by AIN to provide objective, independent coverage, and analysis of new aviation technology, including electric aircraft developments.