Farnborough 2022: Airbus launches Auto'Mate programme to test autonomous tanker tech
Airbus subsidiary Airbus UpNext has launched Auto’Mate, a demonstrator that will develop, adapt, mature, integrate and evaluate technologies enabling autonomous assets air-to-air refuelling (A4R) and autonomous formation flight operations.
The programme will focus on automating the receiver aircraft’s tasks, which requires a set of new technologies. These will be tested in flight during 2023 with a final end-to-end demonstration set for mid-2024, using an Airbus A310 as a tanker testbed and Do-DT25 target drones as receiver aircraft.
The technologies developed for Auto’Mate are designed to permit a 'disruptive step forward' in the autonomy level of flight refuelling, with the aim of reducing crew fatigue and training costs, improving safety and efficiency. The programme will pioneer uncrewed refuelling operations, including uncrewed-to-uncrewed fuel transfer.
Airbus recently certified an automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) system for the Republic of Singapore Air Force's A330 MRTT tanker fleet.
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