Thales has announced that it has successfully achieved, with its partner Boeing, the full automatic landing of a one ton class VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) UAV. The automatic landing was carried out on the back of a moving trailer, representing the movement of a ship’s deck.
The flight tests took place in the US at the New Mexico SpacePort, using Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) air vehicle. They show that the demonstrator based on MAGIC ATOLS (Automatic Take Off and Landing System) developed by Thales, is able at any given time, to provide the relative position of the drone in relation to the platform and ensure flight guidance and control with a better accuracy than GPS.
The system operates at a long range independently of GPS signals, in all weather conditions.
Innovation-driven, this system offers a unique level of security and redundancy to allow certification. It thus enables UAV landings with no external pilot – a key advantage for both Army and Navy operations.
The flight trials will continue over the following weeks – this time with the demonstrator fitted on to a 3 axis-moving table representing the movements of the ship’s deck.
The MAGIC ATOLs system draws on extensive experience gained from the UK’s Watchkeeper programme, for which it was qualified in 2008. The Watchkeeper is Europe’s most ambitious surveillance and intelligence UAS program.