Airbus launches commercial drone service Airbus Aerial

airbus aerial launch of commercial drone services

Airbus has launched a commercial drone service, Airbus Aerial, which will bring together small drone technology, high-altitude unmanned aircraft, satellite infrastructure and analytics software. 

Few can claim to have more heritage and expertise in the world of aviation than Airbus. The company is now set to expand its airborne reach by combining the latest in aerial technology for commercial customers in the US and Europe.

Agriculture, construction and conservation

With the ability to bring together the full spectrum of drone technology, software and satellite imaging, Airbus Aerial is in a strong position to offer imagery services to commercial clients. The data captured from aerial solutions could be used for mapping and modelling in agriculture, construction and conservation.

Thermal and multispectral imaging can give farmers accurate information on crop health, for example, while advanced software can create 3D models to assist with planning and progress tracking during building works and mining projects.

Equally, satellite imaging and high-altitude systems can monitor changes to landscapes that occur over time, as conservation efforts work to combat deforestation and identify climate-related changes to the environment.

Read more: Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular smart city transport

A step towards logistics services

Airbus Defence and Space CEO Dirk Hoke hinted that Airbus Aerial will eventually move from data services into logistics.

“Through Airbus Aerial, we are uniquely positioned and fully committed to advancing the commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry. It is bringing together partners from across the industry – ranging from vehicle manufacturers, data analytics companies, service providers and others – to enable data-focused services at large scale,” he said.

“Using an integrated combination of assets, from UAS platforms to satellite imagery, Airbus Aerial is rolling out a wide range of new imagery services. In the future, additional pillars of the Airbus Aerial activities will be in the area of cargo drone services as well as providing connectivity via aerial assets.”

Read more: Airbus: engineering the future of intelligent factories

Drones are a piece of the puzzle

Although the hardware market is on the rise, companies bringing together applications with analytics software stand to benefit most from the rise of drone technology.

According to a 2016 report from Gartner, over three million drones will be produced in 2017, up 39 percent on 2016.

Airbus Aerial will have offices in the US and Europe. The US branch will be headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and led by Jesse Kallman.

“Drones are only a piece of a much larger picture for us,” said Kallman. “Airbus Aerial brings together a variety of aerospace technologies, including drones and satellites, combines them in a common software infrastructure, and applies industry-specific analytics to deliver tailored solutions to our customers’ biggest challenges.”

Read more: Airbus leveraging IoT and IBM’s Watson for connected aircraft

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Airbus sees the future through the vision of “smart glasses”

Airbus sees the future through the vision of “smart glasses”

The use of “smart glasses” in an innovative application of 3D technology developed in a teaming of Airbus and Accenture has enabled greater efficiency and time savings during the outfitting of Airbus aircraft, and is being extended to flight test equipment installation on A330neo jetliners.

Airbus previously utilized the smart glasses on series-production A330s, performing position-marking for the installation of seat legs in cabins of 60 A330ceo (Current Engine Option) jetliners on the Toulouse, France final assembly line.

The success led to the deployment of smart glasses technology in mounting flight test equipment last year on the no. 2 A330neo; an experience to be repeated this November aboard the no. 3 A330neo aircraft.

Cédric Gardon, the Industrialisation Technical Manager for Flight Test Installation, said:

“Before the arrival of smart glasses for in-cabin applications, we had to decipher complex drawings and convert imperial measurements into metric measurements in marking the position of the equipment on the cabin floor. We were surprised at how much time we saved. The operation used to require three people and three days; now it requires one single operator and six hours.”

With the use of smart glasses now well established, Airbus is looking at broader cabin outfitting opportunities in A330 final assembly line applications, eventually expanding the process to other aircraft programmes as well.

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Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular smart city transport

airbus design for futuristic smart city transport pop.up

Italdesign and Airbus have launched an ambitious transport concept at the Geneva Motor Show. 

Airbus is heavily invested in the notion of flying cars. Its secretive Project Vahana – scheduled for test flights at the end of 2017 – has been in development for some time now. And leading figures at the aviation giant predict these revolutionary vehicles could be on the market within ten years. If that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for futuristic transport, the company’s latest concept takes the idea of getting around smart cities one step further.

Pop.Up

Pop.Up from Airbus and Italdesign

This is Pop.Up, a unique mode of transport that sits on the boundary between car and drone. Revealed at the Geneva Motor Show, Airbus has dubbed Pop.Up a ‘modular vehicle’, designed to strike the balance between mobility, ease of use and autonomy. The system comprises of a car capable of disconnecting from its wheels and being collected by a giant drone. This hardware is backed up by an Uber-like ride platform that harnesses artificial intelligence to act on local information regarding the best route and journey conditions.

Read more: Airbus: engineering the future of intelligent factories

Airbus worked on the project with design and engineering company Italdesign. Both organisations believe that, as commuters face ever more daunting struggles through congested cities, the concept’s modularity and resulting ability to take to the skies will be its biggest selling point.

The most important part of the Pop.Up system is the central pod. Its flexibility would give users access to an adaptable way of moving within cities, combining ease of use with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing drone.

Traditional car not suited to smart cities

By 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities – a 10% rise on today’s total. Italdesign CEO Jörg Astalosch highlighted the widespread revolution across infrastructure and urban planning that’s needed if cities are to cope with this expected influx. “Today, automobiles are part of a much wider eco-system: if you want to design the urban vehicle of the future, the traditional car cannot alone be the solution for megacities,” he said.

“You also have to think about sustainable and intelligent infrastructure, apps, integration, power systems, urban planning, social aspects, and so on. In the next years ground transportation will move to the next level and from being shared, connected and autonomous it will also go multimodal and moving into the third dimension”.

Read more: Report: Smart cities demand smart transport systems

The race for flying transport

The complex concept put forward by Airbus and Italdesign faces a range of challenges beyond the hardware. Implied in the idea is a level of infrastructure that would require a huge amount of investment and urban disruption, while there are also questions over exactly how a fleet of autonomous aerial passenger vehicles would fly safely and fit into current air traffic control systems.

In reference to Airbus’ Project Vahana prototype that’s scheduled for testing at the end of this year, Rodin Lyasoff, CEO of A3, the advanced projects and partnerships outpost of Airbus Group based in Silicon Valley, insists that flying cars are completely feasible.

“Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,” he explains. “However, Vahana also requires reliable sense-and-avoid technology. While this is just starting to be introduced in cars, no mature airborne solutions currently exist. That’s one of the bigger challenges we aim to resolve as early as possible.”

It may well turn out that Lyasoff and his team look to replicate the obstacle avoidance technology being pioneered by the likes of Movidius, DJI and Intel in the consumer drone industry. It’s also there that competition is emerging in the race to develop passenger drones, although products such as the EHANG 184 (below) are not modular in the way that the Airbus and Italdesign concept envisions.

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