The first remote automatic flight of UMS SKELDAR’s V-150 VTOL platform marked a major milestone for the UAV company, as well as being a world first.

The flight, which took place in October 2020, marked the first time that a drone had taken off and landed without a human being in the loop. The milestone also enabled a future of remote flight demonstrations for the VTOL.

“Sophisticated software” makes autonomous landing decisions

FINN caught up with David Willems, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at UMS Skeldar at IDEX 2021 to explain more about what’s next for the platform – and the company.

The drone was tested as part of a naval programme. Willems explained that data-driven decision making was key with a number of devices on the deck of the ship providing constant analysis of the position, shape and effects of the waves. “With some very sophisticated software, the autonomous decision for the landing phase – the last few metres – is made at the right moment.”

He was also asked the question of what would happen if the fully autonomous system was to go wrong.

“Everything can go wrong,” said Willems. “And of course, a man is always capable of taking over the controls if need be. But it’s also a safety feature for a lot of the ships. Because by not having a man on the deck to remote control the aircraft, you are also preventing any life loss by keeping everybody safe on the ship.”

The drone capability has been declared fully operational for European naval customers with UMS SKELDAR’S unmanned platforms set to enter international waters in the near future.

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