SAFETERM addresses the use of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies to increase the level of safety in specific emergency situations leading to the termination of a flight

The ATLAS Experimental Flight Center, in Villacarrillo (Jaén), has hosted the final phase of SAFETERM (Safe Autonomous Flight Termination System), a project sponsored by the European Defense Agency (EDA) and developed by the technology companies GMV and AERTEC.

Unmanned aerial systems are in full expansion and development phase, being safety in all phases of flight and its integration in the airspace a priority issue. The objective of the SAFETERM project is to improve current medium-altitude, long-duration (MALE) RPAS flight termination systems and procedures by applying state-of-the-art artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies to increase the level of safety in specific emergency situations, in case of failure of both the autonomy and the ability to control the remote pilot.

The system aims to provide tools for the aircraft to autonomously determine the Alternative Flight Termination Areas (AFTA) where the risk to third parties can be minimized. In the event of a loss of communication with the aircraft and the subsequent identification of an emergency that prevents reaching the planned Flight Termination Areas, the aircraft quickly identifies a safe area to land, avoiding buildings, roads or inhabited areas.

Final flight campaign of the UAS TARSIS 75

The validation phase of the project has concluded with a flight campaign in a real operational environment, at the ATLAS Experimental Flight Center, and in which the AERTEC TARSIS 75 unmanned aerial system has been used. The aircraft has had an on-board prototype of the SAFETERM System for the evaluation of its viability. To do this, several flights have been made during three full days, in which the system has behaved as expected in the development of the project.

During the tests, the loss of communications and the subsequent emergency situation have been simulated. After that, using the images obtained from the TARSIS sensor, the SAFETERM system has autonomously identified the areas where it is possible to land safely. Finally, the TARSIS has made the guided flight to the safest landing area.

“The fact of being AERTEC Design Engineering and Integration of the TARSIS 75 has played a key role in executing this project on time, in which it has been necessary to develop new modules and integrate a new system (SAFETERM), first in a simulation environment and finally in our unmanned system”, adds Juanjo Calvente, director of RPAS at AERTEC.

These tests have attracted the interest of several dozen professionals and heads of agencies and organizations from all over Europe, who have attended the call of the European Defense Agency (EDA) to present the results of SAFETERM.