08 May 2022 || 4 min read
Embraer has concluded a series of experimental flights in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil per a company news release, focused on evaluating new autonomous system technologies in real flight conditions. The goal is to enable safe autonomous operation in complex urban environments.
The aerial data collection and real-time evaluation of autonomous flight technologies in urban scenarios used traditional piloted helicopters as part of the Embraer Autonomous Systems project (“Project EASy”), which uses agile testing processes for the development of solutions that will enable autonomous aviation in the near future.
Embraer worked with Eve, an Embraer company dedicated to accelerating the Urban Air Mobility ecosystem, and in direct collaboration with partners Daedalean, Iris Automation and Near Earth Autonomy for seven full days. During this time, the companies explored nominal and edge-case scenarios for take-off, climb, cruise, approach and landing flight phases. The helicopters from Helisul Aviação, an Eve partner for UAM development in Brazil, were controlled by professional pilots at all times while systems captured data and performed real-time calculations.
“This project allowed us to evaluate technologies in real-time and also collect lots of data that will later be used in simulations,” said Julio Bolzani, Head of Autonomous Systems at Embraer. “It is important to note that we are not going straight to fully autonomous operations. As Eve begins operations, pilots will be on board and will also benefit from the application of these technologies through a safer and simplified vehicle operation until we reach a fully certified autonomous flight system for Urban Air Mobility.”
This experimental process is also connected to the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) coordinated by Eve since 2021, in cooperation with strategic partners and government entities to convert this acquired knowledge into working data and analysis framework to guide all operational aspects of the future of urban aerial mobility.
See Embraer’s full vision for urban aerial mobility below:
“All information and data raised in this project, as well as the technical solutions under development, will set the path for fully autonomous flight of eVTOLs in the future,” said Andre Stein, co-CEO of Eve. “We are thrilled with all operational aspects exercised and data acquired in this project and its direct connection to our CONOPS. These are solid steps for safely introducing future autonomous operations and accelerating the affordability and growth of the UAM market.”
Why it matters: Embraer’s Eve eVTOL has already amassed impressive orders from BLADE and other eVTOL operators. Given recent partnerships, Eve is poised to be the leading eVTOL manufacturer in Central and South America, with the potential to compete against American and European counterparts. Eve has yet to build and fly its prototype, but this series of demonstrations of their autonomous technologies should bring them one major step closer.