Honeywell and Volocopter signed an agreement to jointly test and develop new navigation and automatic landing systems for Volocopter’s vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. This is the second significant agreement focused on the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) sector that Honeywell has signed in a matter of months, after reaching a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Pipistrel back in late January 2019.
The MOU with Pipistrel focuses on a collaboration to integrate Honeywell avionics, navigation, flight control systems connectivity, and other related products onto a future Pipistrel vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle to support fully autonomous operation.
Volocopter, based in Germany, describes its current 2X aircraft as the world’s first multicopter to be granted a certification for manned flights, back in 2016. Without a combustion engine, the X2’s on-board systems and 18 electric drives are currently supplied by nine high-capacity batteries. Honeywell explains this new agreement with Volocopter launches its autonomous sensing and flight technologies, including inertial measurement units, attitude heading reference systems, and potentially other UAM innovations.
Honeywell explains these solutions noted above build on technologies developed under Europe’s Clean Sky 2 and Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) 2020 industry and government collaboration programs. Honeywell and Volocopter aim to prove and mature existing technologies by evolving sensor-based navigation systems for use in fully-electric VTOL aircraft. These tests, according to Honeywell, will help the two companies create completely new technologies for UAM.
“Congestion and traffic jams continue to be time killers for people in modern mega-cities. New time-saving, environmentally friendly solutions are required, and air taxis will certainly be one of them,” said Jan Hendrik Boelens, chief technology officer, Volocopter. “Honeywell’s wealth of experience and knowledge in the development of next-generation avionics technologies, combined with our manufacturing expertise, will make autonomous, on-demand air mobility a reality across the world.”
Boelens continues to explain that a key goal of the new collaboration agreement is to fly a Honeywell inertial measurement-based attitude reference system in one of Volocopter’s aircraft in 2019.
Honeywell states its existing aviation hardware and software portfolio, including advanced navigation technologies and fly-by-wire flight controls, can be tailored for the needs of UAM aircraft.
“Our global legacy of innovation serves all airspace users, as demonstrated through our involvement in the Clean Sky 2 and SESAR 2020 programs,” said Carl Esposito, president, Electronic Solutions, Honeywell Aerospace. Honeywell has more than 100 years of experience helping to develop aircraft and its products, according to the company, fly on tens of thousands of airplanes and rotorcraft worldwide.