Commercial Aircraft

The sky is the limit

man looking at many screensICS helps manufacturer prep for inaugural flight of self-flying aircraft.

Prepping for Critical Test Flight of Autonomous Aircraft

Racing to deliver the future of transportation, this global aircraft manufacturer has made substantial progress in the realm of autonomous flying vehicles. The company looked to ICS to help prepare for the first flight of its innovative electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The company hopes to one day build an entire fleet of these vehicles, colloquially referred to as “air taxis,” to fly commuters from rooftop to rooftop in crowded cities with snarled traffic.

Challenge

Safety is foremost in the minds of innovators developing this type of trailblazing technology. Executing a successful flight — safe takeoff, ascent, flight, descent and landing — is built upon huge quantities of critical data. To control its test vehicle, the company needed to access and visualize extensive real-time telemetry emanating from the vehicle, as well as send commands from the control center to the vehicle.

Solution

The company chose to use open-source ground control software to handle these tasks, but the software required heavy customization. That’s where ICS came in. ICS worked closely with the customer to understand precisely what data was needed and how it should be displayed for maximum clarity. ICS then handled the customizations using Qt, visualizing the telemetry in both existing and newly developed widgets. Because of the vast amount of required data, and the precision nature of that data, customization was a painstaking process that lasted nearly a year.

Result

Once the ground control software was expertly tailored and ready for real-world testing, the company undertook its first flight. In front of a rapt audience, the eVTOL aircraft ascended smoothly to a moderate altitude before descending and landing safely. Though brief, the flight was deemed an unequivocal success, bringing the promise of urban air mobility a step closer to reality.