A³ by Airbus is the Silicon Valley R&D outpost of Airbus, where Project Wayfinder is currently under development. The company hopes to implement artificial intelligence as a means of advancing the capabilities and applications of autonomous systems for aerial mobility.
According to Airbus, “Project Wayfinder is building scalable, certifiable autonomy systems to power self-piloted aircraft applications throughout Airbus, from small urban air vehicles to large commercial airplanes. Our team of experts is driving the maturation of machine learning and other core technologies for autonomous flight; we are creating a reference architecture that includes hardware, software, and a data-driven development process to allow aircraft to perceive and react to their environment.”
A few of the technologies we may expect to see from Wayfinder include detect-and-avoid, landing zone recognition, and other autonomous systems.
Through its beginnings as part of the Airbus Vahana eVTOL project, Wayfinder’s potential for applications throughout aerospace quickly became clear. The success of the project encouraged Airbus to make Project Wayfinder its own entity within A³, which now will develop intelligent technology for all types of aircraft.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) currently mandates “at least two adequately rested, fully qualified, and well-trained pilots,” which currently blocks implementation of autonomous system into commercial operations. While still prohibited for commercial use, autonomous piloting systems are often tested in small-scale autonomous air vehicles such as Airbus’ Vahana, and will eventually make their debut into commercial aviation with collaboration from regulators.
Why it’s important: The development of the Wayfinder technology sets the stage for the future of smart technologies for flight. Other technologies, such as Garmin’s Autoland avionics system, which automates communication between ATC and pilots, are currently under development and certification as well. Together, these kinds of systems will eventually form the air traffic management and flight systems for urban aircraft.
Source // Avionics International