Airbus flies Project EAGLE rotorcraft automation system

14 December 2017
The Project EAGLE on-board image processing system seen mounted under the nose of its H225 host platform testbed. Source: Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters has undertaken in-flight validation of its Project EAGLE on-board image processing system that is geared at furthering the automation of rotorcraft.

The milestone aboard an H225 testbed, which was announced by the Marignane arm of the company on 14 December, demonstrated the system’s ability to select a small ground target from ranges of up to 2 miles (3.2 km) and to automatically track it during the pilot’s approach. It also validated the architecture and main components of the Eye for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension (EAGLE), such as the gyrostabilised optronics package and the processing unit.

Flight trials followed the ground-testing phase that began in May. The next step of the testing campaign will focus on coupling the EAGLE with the automatic flight control system to fully automate the approach to a selected landing area.

As noted by Airbus Helicopters, Project EAGLE “aims to federate the entire helicopter’s image processing functions and feed them into the avionics system, thus improving the crew’s situational awareness and reducing the pilot’s workload by automating and securing approaches, take-off, and landing in the most demanding environments. The system is designed to be integrated on a variety of existing and future Airbus vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles”.

Previously, Airbus Helicopters has said that future iterations of Project EAGLE could include a laser rangefinder which could aid in obstacle detection and 3D-terrain mapping.

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