Thales and France-based hybrid-electric aircraft developer VoltAero are to pursue innovative airborne data collection and computing solutions that promise significant enhancements for the autonomy, sustainability and operability of VoltAero's Cassio electric-hybrid aircraft family.
Thales' FlytLink edge computing system enables real-time processing of imagery from onboard cameras with artificial intelligence supporting such functions as the detection of obstacles and air traffic. The initial validation of such technologies is now underway using VoltAero's Cassio 1 testbed aircraft.
Thales installed a demonstrator of its FlytLink edge computing system on Cassio 1. This ultra-compact computer, natively connected to the cloud, enables the collection and real-time transmission of data from onboard sensors and avionics, along with the processing of data in flight or on the ground using the latest-generation algorithms, as well as the hosting of applications that facilitate piloting tasks.
VoltAero CEO and chief technology officer Jean Botti says: “Potential future uses of Thales' FlytLink edge computing solutions on production versions of the Cassio electric-hybrid aircraft family include optimising route planning for flight operations that are even more efficient and environmentally friendly. The real-time processing of imagery from onboard cameras with artificial intelligence could also support such functions as the detection of obstacles and air traffic, an asset for flight safety.”
"Developing innovative solutions for regional and urban air mobility needs to build on the best of avionics know-how, further improving the safety of these new aircraft and offering breakthrough solutions based on the most advanced technologies," adds Thales VP strategy, product and innovation Marc Duval-Destin. “This is precisely what we are implementing with VoltAero, beginning on its Cassio 1, to test and develop solutions that will make a difference for the air transportation of tomorrow.”
VoltAero is developing a family of electric-parallel hybrid aircraft based on the company's proprietary electric-hybrid powertrain. Its Cassio 1 testbed has undergone extensive airborne evaluations since 2020 with VoltAero's full-power 600-kilowatt electric-hybrid powertrain, logging some 10,000 km in flights in France and to the UK.