The ATLAS Experimental Flight Center in Villacarrillo (Jaén) has hosted the final phase of SAFETERM (Safe Autonomous Flight Termination System), a project sponsored by the European Defense Agency (EDA) and developed by technology companies GMV and AERTEC.
SAFETERM addresses the use of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies to increase the level of safety in specific emergency situations leading to flight termination.
Unmanned aerial systems are in full expansion and development phase, with safety in all flight phases and its integration in the airspace being a priority issue. The objective of the SAFETERM project is to improve current medium-altitude, long-duration (MALE) RPAS flight termination systems and procedures by applying state-of-the-art artificial intelligence/machine learning 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 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.
Final flight campaign of the UAS TARSIS 75
The validation phase of the project has concluded with a flight campaign in a live operational environment at the ATLAS Experimental Flight Center, using AERTEC’s TARSIS 75 unmanned aerial system. The aircraft had an on-board prototype of the SAFETERM System for evaluation of its viability. To this end, 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. Next, 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”, adds Juanjo Calvente, director of RPAS at AERTEC.
These tests have attracted the interest of several dozen professionals and heads of agencies and organizations from all over Europe, who have attended the call of the European Defense Agency (EDA) to present the results of SAFETERM.