The first pilotless robojet takes flight

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pilotless flight

A Jetstream aircraft with full collision avoidance became the first to fly in UK shared airspace this week.

The plane flew itself like an outsized drone with continual monitoring by a pilot based on the ground. Take off was handled by an on-board pilot from Warton and landing in Inverness.

The main challenge to overcome is sensing and avoidability. “That’s the showstopper at the moment. Without a pilot they need a sensing system to replace the Mark 1 eyeball – one that can tell a hot-air balloon from a cloud.”

Astraea (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment) has received £62m in funding from commercial companies and the UK government to research how civilian, pilotless aircraft could fit into shared airspace. Research is going well, this being a huge milestone in their progress but it's still early days in terms of regulation. The project has the support of the Civil Aviation Authority.

See the video below for more details.

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