A scientific and technological cooperation between Embraer and the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (Ufes), in the areas of autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence resulted in the first test of an autonomous aircraft in Brazil. The successful initiative made it possible for a prototype to perform the taxiing operation on its own, moving along a previously established path without human interference.
The sensor and image navigation set led the autonomous systems technology demonstration aircraft through the runway, taxi area and patio independently, without outside assistance. A pilot followed the cockpit operation in case of any interference. The test took place in the last week of Aug., at Embraer unit in Gavião Peixoto, in São Paulo state.
For the past six months, researchers from Embraer and Ufes have worked together on mathematical and computational models of automation, software development, hardware, laser sensor kit, GPS and cameras, as well as systems integration into the aeronautical platform. The autonomous land navigation system was tested in a simulator during preliminary assessments prior to actual operation.
“Our strategy for technology development in autonomous systems seeks to position the country at the forefront of artificial intelligence processes in a variety of applications”, said Daniel Moczydlower, Embraer's executive vice president of engineering and technology. “Achieving this technological milestone in Embraer's 50th anniversary month demonstrated not only the importance of bringing industry closer to the university, but also how prepared and engaged our people are for the journey of excellence needed for the coming decades.”
The integrated artificial intelligence system monitored the aircraft’s external and internal conditions, which acts independently on the acceleration, steering and braking commands, and accurately performed the movement along the indicated path. The test aircraft platform - the same one used for the development of the modern executive jets Legacy 500 and Praetor 600 - integrated features of the Intelligent Autonomous Robotic Automobile (IARA) system, result of an autonomous cars’ research that began in 2009, at the Ufes High Performance Computing Laboratory (LCAD).
“This success demonstrates the excellence of what we have been developing at Ufes in the last 10 years in the areas of autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. It puts us once again at the scientific forefront in these areas worldwide. Doing all this in partnership with Embraer fills us with pride and satisfaction”, said Professor Alberto Ferreira de Souza, project coordinator.