(25 Mar 2022, 11:46 +07)
Airbus has tested the autonomous
take-off and landing capabilities at sea for the VSR700, an
unmanned aerial system (UAS) being developed in the frame of the
SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) programme, conducted
by the DGA (Direction générale de lArmement) for the French Navy.
Trials were conducted using an optionally piloted
vehicle (OPV) based on a modified Guimbal Cabri G2 equipped with
the autonomous take-off and landing (ATOL) system developed for
the VSR700. The flight test campaign paves the way for the
upcoming demonstration of the VSR700, at sea, onboard a French
These tests in real-life conditions
constitute a crucial step towards the campaign that we will
conduct at sea with the DGA and the French Navy later this year,
said Nicolas Delmas, head of the VSR700 programme for Airbus
Helicopters. Using the OPV, we have demonstrated the unique
autonomous take-off and landing capabilities of the VSR700. We
have also proved the optimal functioning of the vehicle and its
command station interface on board a vessel in realistic
Airbus Helicopters' VSR700. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com
The test campaign was conducted off the coast
of Brest, France, onboard a civilian vessel equipped with a
helicopter landing deck in the presence of experts from the DGA.
Beyond demonstrating the ATOL system developed for the VSR700, the
trials were also used to assess the approach procedures before
landing on the vessel.
The VSR700 flight envelope at sea, in
proximity to a vessel, was tested in line with development objectives and was confirmed to be fully compatible with naval
Both the semi-autonomous and the fully autonomous
modes of the ATOL system were demonstrated with success in
different sea states.
The VSR700 uses Airbus DeckFinder to enable
autonomous ship deck take off and landings in all weather
conditions, during the day or night. In total, 150 autonomous
launches and recoveries took place.
The handling and maneuvering
of the OPV, representative of the VSR700, on the ship deck were
The OPV can carry one test pilot in order to
enable safer and more agile initial testing before those systems
are integrated into the fully autonomous VSR700. The OPV initially
conducted piloted take-offs and landings before switching
progressively to fully autonomous maneuvers.
operate alongside other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 is in
the 500-1,000 kg maximum take off weight range. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors
for extended periods and can operate from existing ships,
alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.
The first prototype of the
a tethered maiden flight in
first untethered flight in 2020. Airbus expanded the VSR700's flight envelope in 2021.
In April 2021, the
DGA ordered a second prototype of the VSR700 to focus on trials
covering SDAM requirements and to permit broader, more rapid
development towards that goal.
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