Airbus’ self-flying plane just completed successful taxi, take-off, and landing tests, opening the door for fully autonomous flight

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tpallini@businessinsider.com (Thomas Pallini)

Business Insider

Airbus

  • Airbus just completed its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off, and Landing project that saw one of its jets perform normally pilot-flown maneuvers entirely on its own.
  • The A350-1000 XWB acted as the testbed for the project in its role as Airbus’ flagship, with onboard cameras assisting the new technology.
  • The project’s successful completion opens the door for fully autonomous flights as autopilot already handles most of the functions while airborne.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The common belief with airplanes is that they fly themselves after take-off thanks to autopilot, and pilots can sit back and relax for most of the flight. But Airbus just took that idea to the next level after proving a passenger jet can perform complex maneuvers without any pilot input.

The European manufacturer just completed flight testing for its Autonomous Taxi, Take-off, and Landing project in June after its flagship aircraft successfully navigated each phase of flight on its own as pilots simply watched.

Over 500 flights were conducted with the new Airbus A350-1000 XWB that successfully utilized “image recognition technology” to essentially give the plane a pair of eyes. The technology, integrated with the A350’s exterior cameras, allowed it to perform the phases of flight entirely on its own, Airbus announced.

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An Airbus A350-1000 XWB aircraft.
An Airbus A350-1000 XWB aircraft.

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An Airbus A350 XWB cockpit.
An Airbus A350 XWB cockpit.
An Airbus A350-1000 XWB cockpit.
An Airbus A350-1000 XWB cockpit.
An Airbus A350-1000 XWB cockpit during the first successful autonomous take-off test.
An Airbus A350-1000 XWB cockpit during the first successful autonomous take-off test.
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