German researchers has created an automatic landing system for small aircraft that lets them touch down not only without a pilot, but without any of the tech on the ground.
As, in commercial airplanes and other large jets, automated landings primarily rely on a technology called the Instrument Landing System (ILS), which uses radio signals and on-board autopilot to guide aircraft on their final approach.
A team led by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has been developing an alternative that does much the same thing as ILS, but without needing any ground-based antennas.
Researchers Called ‘C2Land‘, the team’s experimental system uses GPS for flight control in tandem with a vision-augmented navigation system for landing.
The computer vision system which processes both visible light and infrared in case visibility is poor due to sunlight, haze, or mist enables C2Land to recognize the runway and calculate a virtual glide path for the landing approach.
It sounds like a comprehensive rig, but the real proof is seeing whether all those algorithms and sensors can actually do their thing as intended when they’re plummeting towards terra firma without a human pilot’s steady hand.
By contrast, the TUM test flight resembles the kind of landing that real, in-service small airplanes actually have to make all the time, and it was done entirely autonomously.