- Airbus’ Silicon Valley incubator Acubed is pressing forward with a data collection program that will support future autonomous flight operations.
- Acubed’s Project Wayfinder just acquired a Beechcraft Baron 58 and equipped it with onboard cameras and instrumentation to be used as a flying lab for researchers.
- Successful test flights of a self-flying Airbus A350-1000 XWB proved the concept of self-flying planes viable with Project Wayfinder aiming to make it a reality.
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Airbus proved that autonomous flight for passenger airliners is possible earlier this year with its self-flying A350-1000 XWB that performed successful taxi, take-off, and landing tests entirely on its own without pilot input.
Performing over 500 flights as part of the Autonomous Taxi, Take-off, and Landing project, the aircraft was successfully able to distinguish airport runways and taxiways, skillfully piloting itself through each phase of flight and taking the idea of autopilot to the next level.
Each flight was performed at Airbus’ headquarters and main production facility in Toulouse, France, where the aircraft performing the tests was also assembled. But the software powering the flights had been driven by data from researchers and engineers 5,000 miles away in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Airbus’ Silicon Valley incubator, Acubed, is home to Project Wayfinder, which aims to create autonomous solutions for the future of flight, whether it be manned and unmanned. Its findings may have implications in the development of new commercial aircraft but could also shape the creation of autonomous air taxi and eVTOL flights.
Following the success of the autonomous A350 trials, Project Wayfinder just acquired its own flying testbed as part of Airbus' quest to build a robust dataset that will enable autonomous with uses in urban air taxis and commercial aircraft.
Here's a look inside Project Wayfinder and its newest flying research aircraft.