Honeywell Flight Testing Autonomous Landing Sensors


Honeywell Aerospace has announced that flight testing is underway for sensors designed to help urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles land autonomously. According to the company, test aircraft are outfitted with the sensors and equipped with cameras that “analyze visual markings resembling QR codes” as a means of guiding the vehicle to the landing site. Testing has been conducted using Honeywell’s AS350 helicopter.

“Introducing numerous piloted and autonomous aircraft in dense urban environments is a real challenge in making the UAM vision achievable,” said Honeywell Aerospace Vice President and General Manager of Navigation and Sensors Matt Picchetti. “Navigation is a key part of Honeywell’s heritage, from the industry’s first autopilot to the opportunities we see today in urban air mobility. We are drawing on this expertise and our problem-solving capabilities to lead the way in identifying and bringing to market the most effective technologies to support safer, and increasingly autonomous, UAM operations.”

Testing is scheduled to continue throughout 2020, with the goal of gathering data and refining sensor capabilities. Honeywell says additional tests will be conducted in collaboration with some of its UAM partners, which include companies such as Vertical Aerospace, Volocopter, Jaunt Air Mobility, Pipistrel and DENSO. A Honeywell demonstration of fully automated landings expected in approximately 12 months.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. That defeats the purpose of on-demand autonomous if it needs visual markings at every point in the city.

  2. There is a good reason why aircraft has not placed engines on the wing tips. Why is electric motors any different?

  3. Landing a VTOL aircraft at random places in a city is a delusion. Anything heavy enough to carry people will create more noise and wind than bystanders will tolerate. The laws of physics do not yield to wishful thinking. Urban VTOL service will operate from (mostly) rooftop helipads – look at it as cost-reduced helicopter service.