October 4, 2017 – With the codename of EAGLE which is an acronym for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension, part of their strategy for future innovation of vertical flight, Airbus Helicopters is developing an experimental onboard image processing management system with hopes of performing automatic approaches and landing in challenging conditions. This system will literally pave the way for future sense and avoid applications that can be used on autonomous vertical take-off and landing systems.
The EAGLE system will accumulate the aircraft’s image processing functions and feed them into a central avionics system which will improve the crew’s situational awareness and reduce the pilot’s workload by automating and securing approaches, take-off and landing in the most demanding of environments. While the ground testing of EAGLE has been ongoing since May of this year, initial test flights on a testbed helicopter are slated to begin shortly.
“While existing missions such as search and rescue and offshore transportation will benefit from Eagle’s capabilities, the system will also help address future requirements for operations in urban environments”, said Tomasz Krysinski, Airbus Helicopters Vice-President Research & Technology. “Ultimately, thanks to its ability to provide increased situational awareness, Eagle will also contribute to improve the safety, autonomy, and performance of future unmanned vehicles.”
The EAGLE system which is capable of being embedded in a variety of existing and future Airbus vertical take-off and landing vehicles relies on a gyro-stabilized optronics package which includes three high-resolution cameras and state-of-the-art processing units along with onboard video analytics which provide advanced functionalities such as object detection and tracking, digital noise reduction as well as the ability to process deep learning.
Airbus hopes that future versions of the EAGLE system will integrate lasers which when combined with the high processing capability of the system could open doors to other applications such as new generation searchlights, obstacle detection, and even 3-D terrain reconstruction.
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