Similar technology has previously worked only for landings at large airports. Soon the autopilot will be used even on small airfields.
The autonomous landing system developed by the Technical University of Munich and the Technical University of Braunschweig was sponsored by the German federal government programme. The technology is based on GPS and involves other systems as well. The point is that the GPS-provided coordinates may not be accurate enough, and the cost of error is too high.
Infrared cameras have enabled to resolve the issue. As the aircraft approaches an airfield, the firmware analyses the data coming from the cameras and determines the aircraft’s position relative to the runway. This solution allows to doublecheck the GPS data to ensure a safe touchdown.
The system has been successfully tested with a modified lightweight Diamond DA42 aircraft safely landed.
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