Honeywell Unveils Next-Generation Avionics Lab for Unmanned Aerial Systems and Urban Air Mobility

A new research and development lab recently built by Honeywell (NYSE: HON) 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 the first of its kind to demonstrate actual fly- by-wire controls and vehicle avionics integrated in a lab setting. It will be used to develop, test, and demonstrate Honeywell’s industry-leading technology aimed at simplifying the operations of future vehicles.

“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,” said Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager, UAS/UAM, Honeywell Aerospace. “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.”

Industry Stakeholder Groups Urge U.S. Department of Transportation to Issue Final Rule Without Delay

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle

Systems International (AUVSI) recently joined with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the U.S. Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC) to encourage the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to hold fast to the intended December 2020 release of the rulemaking on Remote Identification (ID) for unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

The industry groups called on U.S. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson to continue with a timely rulemaking process, given the rule’s critical step in future UAS regulation and broader industry growth. The letter went on to note that the rule should be performance based, stating: “Given our broad scope of stakeholders across many sectors of our economy, we understand the importance of allowing UAS technology to evolve and grow, and not to have

The unmanned vehicle industry already plays an increasingly essential role in American life, supporting infrastructure inspection, agriculture, disaster relief, and public safety. This has especially been true in the last seven months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies have begun transporting medical specimens and supplies via drone; people in remote locations are receiving prescriptions via unmanned aerial system; and the sector is poised for continued growth and job creation.

Timely action from the DOT is necessary for the UAS industry to continue innovating and growing, and industry is looking towards Secretary Chao and Administrator Dickson for their leadership in delivering a final performance-based rule in December 2020.

The concept of simplified vehicle operations, or 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.

The new lab is located at Honeywell’s Deer Valley avionics facility in Phoenix, Arizona. 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. 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.

In this lab, 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.

growth hindered by prescriptive regulatory requirements. As such, we also urge the department to support a final rule that sets performance requirements, rather that specifying particular solutions for Remote ID compliance.”


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