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VSR700 Autonomous take-off and Landing Capabilities Tested at Sea

Issue 113 - April 2022

Airbus Helicopters has begun trialing autonomous take-off and landing capabilities at sea for the VSR700, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) being developed in the frame of the SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) program, conducted by the DGA (Direction générale de l’Armement - the French Armament General Directorate) for the French Navy. Trials were conducted using an optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) based on a modified Guimbal Cabri G2 equipped with the autonomous take-off and landing (ATOL) system developed for the VSR700. This flight test campaign paves the way for the upcoming demonstration of the VSR700 at sea on board a French Navy frigate. 

The test campaign was conducted off the coast of Brest, France, onboard a civilian vessel equipped with a helicopter landing deck in the presence of experts from the DGA. Beyond demonstrating the ATOL system developed for the VSR700, the trials were also used to assess the approach procedures before landing on the vessel. The VSR700 flight envelope at sea, in proximity to a vessel, was tested in line with development objectives and was confirmed to be fully compatible with naval operations. Both the semi-autonomous and fully autonomous modes of the ATOL system were demonstrated with success in different sea states. The VSR700 uses Airbus DeckFinder to enable autonomous ship deck to take off and landings in all weather conditions, during the day or night. In total, 150 autonomous launches and recoveries took place. The handling and maneuvering of the OPV, representative of the VSR700, on the ship deck were also tested.