CONTENT PREVIEW
ATC

Airbus takes a fresh look at UTM

06 September 2017
Karthik Balakrishnan leads Project Altiscope at A3. Source: A3

Airbus Silicon Valley advanced projects outpost A3, established in 2015, is pursuing its mission to “redefine the future” with its latest public project: Altiscope.

A3 is already developing a self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxi known as Vahana, and it launched Altiscope on 6 September to address issues surrounding unmanned aerial vehicle traffic management (UTM).

The Vahana self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxi, introduced at the 2017 Paris Air Show by Airbus Silicon Valley subsidiary A3. (A3)The Vahana self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxi, introduced at the 2017 Paris Air Show by Airbus Silicon Valley subsidiary A3. (A3)

Altiscope is a software-based simulator built for evaluating ATM policy options and operational models able to support all forms of airborne traffic. It addresses how the ATM system will have to look in the future, as opposed to incremental changes to the ATM system of today, according to project lead Karthik Balakrishnan. “Altiscope is looking to guide development of unmanned traffic management systems: where some of the questions are very fundamental, yet the answers are very foundational,” he said.

A3 has begun discussions with industry stakeholders to establish relevant questions and goals for a system designed to operate for years to come. “Airbus has many autonomous projects: small, large, unmanned, manned, fast, slow, low, high, and medium altitude, so we really can’t favour any kind of mission,” added Balakrishnan. “Our goal is to create an environment where all these different kinds of vehicles can fly.”

While A3 is not ready to release information about early partnerships, Balakrishnan is targeting regulators, operators, academics, service providers, and manufacturers. Over the next 12 months he expects to conduct technical analyses and quantitative simulation work on a range of policies and issues that are relevant to managing the urban airspace. “Unlike the first aviation revolution, when we had an empty sky, there is a lot in the air today. We can’t just launch 500 drones in the urban sky and see what happens. It has to be a measured and calculated approach.”

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