A new research and development lab built by Honeywell is demonstrating the company’s technological capabilities in both hardware and software for the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and urban air mobility (UAM) markets.
The lab, which resembles a conceptual UAM vehicle flight deck with real hardware, is located in Honeywell’s Deer Valley avionics facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
It is the first of its kind to demonstrate actual fly-by-wire controls and vehicle avionics integrated in a lab setting, and will be used to develop, test and demonstrate Honeywell’s technology aimed at simplifying the operations of future vehicles.
Stéphane Fymat, Vice President and General Manager, UAS/UAM, Honeywell Aerospace, said: “With the influx of new UAM vehicles taking to the skies in the coming years, we’re seeing a growing need for operators to test real-world technology in a lab setting.
“It is essential that these vehicles are as intuitive as possible and that we have a dedicated space to ensure our systems make that a reality. With this new lab, we can fully simulate real vehicle functionality with real hardware for our customers, which will cut back on costly flight test hours and help them reach their goal of attaining simplified vehicle operations.”
Configured to look like the front end of an aircraft, the new lab has one seat situated in front of a primary display with three additional large wraparound displays to view the simulated outside environment around the aircraft.
Customers can use a control stick to fly a digital version of their aircraft through a high-resolution model of a city. Honeywell computers and actuators mounted on nearby workbenches adapt in real time to pilot inputs, winds and thermals, and simulated hazards.
The concept of simplified vehicle operations (SVO), combines automation and human factors best practices with the goal of reducing the amount of knowledge an operator must have to safely fly an aircraft.
It has hardware typically seen in a traditional aircraft cockpit and Honeywell’s Compact Fly-by-Wire System acts as the brains of the operation, with flight routes and actual control laws built into the software, so the simulated vehicle will operate the same way it would in the real world.
Andrew Baker, Senior Systems Engineer at Honeywell, said: “These are actually very simple to fly. SVO is the new buzzword in how pilots are going to fly these vehicles of the future. We love having pilots come in here, because part of SVO is to actually retrain them on how easy it is to fly these type of vehicles.
“We’re able to simulate a lot of different environments that these aircraft will fly in. We’re able to pull in a lot of our hardware to integrate and test.”
Honeywell offers certification expertise as well as a full line of avionics, propulsion and operational systems for unmanned aircraft and UAM vehicles.