Airbus Achieves In-Flight Control Of Drone From Tanker Aircraft; Also Working For Aatmanirbhar Bharat

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  • The cutting-edge, ‘Made in Europe’ solution is aimed at reducing crew fatigue and the potential for human error, as well as minimising crew training costs
  • In other news, the company awarded its aircraft cargo doors contract to Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. to expand its ‘Make-in-India’ activities

Airbus Defence and Space and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Airbus UpNext, recently announced that they have achieved in-flight autonomous guidance and control of a drone using an A310 MRTT. In a first step towards Autonomous Formation Flight and Autonomous Air-to-Air refuelling (A4R), Airbus believes that the technologies are a major breakthrough for future aerial operations involving manned and unmanned assets.

Known as Auto’Mate, the technologies were integrated on an A310 MRTT flying testbed. The company explained that during six hours of flight test, the four successively launched receivers were sequentially controlled and commanded with the help of AI and cooperative control algorithms, without human interaction. The different receivers were controlled and guided until a minimum distance of 150 feet from the A310 MRTT.

Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, Jean Brice Dumont said, “The success of this first flight-test campaign paves the way for developing autonomous and unmanned air-to-air refuelling technologies. Even though we are at an early stage, we have achieved this within just one year and are on the right track for manned-unmanned teaming and future air force operations where fighters and mission aircraft will fly jointly with drone swarms.”

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Going by the released statement, a second campaign is expected before year-end, exploring the use of navigation sensors based on AI and enhanced algorithms for autonomous formation flight. There will also be two simulated drones flying in the vicinity of the A310 MRTT to demonstrate multi-receiver autonomous operations and collision-avoidance algorithms, it added.

Deal With Tata

Coming to another update, Airbus recently awarded a contract to Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) to manufacture cargo and bulk cargo doors for the A320neo aircraft family. It is learnt that TASL will produce these doors at a new facility in Hyderabad using cutting-edge robotics and automation technology. As per reports, the contract was signed by Olivier Cauquil, SVP Aerostructure Procurement, Airbus, and Masood Hussainy, VP & HO Aerostructure & Aero-Engines, Tata Advanced Systems Ltd., at Hyderabad on March 29, 2023.

(Credit: Airbus)

It is noteworthy that Airbus currently procures components and services worth $735 million from more than 100 Indian suppliers annually. President and MD of Airbus India and South Asia, Rémi Maillard commented at the occasion, “When it comes to supporting the development of India’s industrial capacities, Airbus is walking the talk. The latest contract underlines our continued commitment to ‘Make-in-India’ for an AatmaNirbhar Bharat.”

CEO & MD of Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Sukaran Singh remarked: “We have an ongoing relationship with Airbus based on trust and operational excellence, and this new contract win will further bolster our partnership in aerospace manufacturing in India.”

A leading player in the global aerospace sector, Blagnac, France-based Airbus was established in 1970. The company designs, produces and delivers products and services which span the commercial aircraft, helicopter, defence, security and space segments.


 

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