While on the air, most of plane's functions are handled by autopilot. For more complex task like take-off and landing the plane must depends on the pilot. However Airbus has taken it to the next level and successfully tested the fully autonomous pilot-free aircraft.
The Airbus A350-1000 XWB has successfully completed successful take-offs and landings - as well as a number of complicated manoeuvres - without the help of a pilot. With the help of onboard cameras and latest 'image recognition technology' the plane is able to see and understand its surrounding.
The project was titled as 'Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing' (ATTOL). This project was started to help pilots focus less on the operations of the aircraft, and more on strategic decision making and mission management.
More than 500 flights were conducted with the new Airbus A350-1000 XWB, to make fine calibration in this complex system. Around 450 of the flights took place to gather raw video data in order for the algorithms to be fine-tuned. A total of 30 autonomous landings were successfully achieved across six different flights, proving Airbus could collect the right data to demonstrate the viability of its technology.
Back in December last year, Airbus first successfully demonstrated autonomous take-offs from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France. The pilots simply had to line the plane up on the runway, before sitting back and watching it jet off down the runway, lifting up without any assistance. Passengers of the A350-1000 XWB will even be able to watch the aircraft's take off and landings from the cameras.