The ATLAS Experimental Flight Center in Jaén, Spain has hosted the final phase of Safe Autonomous Flight Termination System (SAFETERM), a project sponsored by the European Defence Agency (EDA) and developed by technology companies GMV and AERTEC.
The project aims to improve current Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) flight termination systems and procedures by applying Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) technologies to increase the level of safety in specific emergency situations, in case of failure of both the autonomy and the ability to control the remote pilot.
The flight termination system aims to provide tools to enable aircraft to autonomously determine Alternative Flight Termination Areas (AFTA) where the risk to third parties can be minimized. In the event of a loss of communication with the aircraft and the subsequent identification of an emergency that prevents reaching planned Flight Termination Areas, the aircraft quickly identifies a safe area to land, avoiding buildings, roads or inhabited areas.
AERTEC’s TARSIS 75 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) was used for the flight campaign, in which a prototype of the SAFETERM System was embarked for evaluation. Several flights were made during three full days, in which the system behaved as expected during the course of the project.
During the tests, loss of communication and the subsequent emergency situations were simulated. Using the images obtained from the TARSIS sensor, the SAFETERM system autonomously identified possible safe landing areas, ultimately enabling TARSIS to make the guided flight to the safest landing area.
“The fact that AERTEC is the firm in charge of Design Engineering and Integration of the TARSIS 75 has played a key role in the timely execution of this project, which required the development of new modules and integrating a new system (SAFETERM), first in a simulation environment and finally in our unmanned system,” said Juanjo Calvente, director of RPAS at AERTEC.
These tests have attracted the interest of several professionals and heads of agencies and organizations from all over Europe, who have attended the call of the EDA to present the results of SAFETERM.