Over the last 100 years, as the aerospace industry has emerged, evolved and improved, automation and autonomous technologies have played a key role in helping us increase the safety of our products and their operational efficiency.


Assisting flight operations safely and efficiently

Emerging technologies, systems and solutions, assist flight operations in a crucial role: they are the tools that will enable the aerospace industry and its customers to thrive long into the future and they are equally essential to our vision: “to pioneer sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world.“

Whatever the level of “autonomy” (from automation systems to fully autonomous vehicles), we use these technologies to keep our products state of the art, improving the human/machine interface. We adapt the level of automation according to the market segments, products, environment and expected benefits to reach our shared goal: the safest and most efficient operations. 

According to what we aim to achieve and the market expectations, we see the potential for diverse applications of autonomy, and we are preparing safety and operational improvements for all products as a result. Further, sustainability is a key driver for Airbus as well as a responsibility of both today's society and businesses. As we continue to grow and innovate as both an industry and an organisation, sustainability is a priority across our products with autonomy as a vital contributor to the future success of our market.

Our projects

AirSense - Autonomous Flight Solution


Enhanced situational awareness and advanced analytics for better decision making in aviation; anticipating operations, increasing fuel savings and safer sky, easy to consume data.

Auto'Mate first flight

Autonomous air-to-air refuelling


This demonstrator develops, adapts and evaluates technologies enabling autonomous air-to-air refuelling in formation flight operations. It will consist of in-flight testing of the key technologies - focusing on three technological bricks that are accurate relative navigation, in-flight communication and cooperative control algorithm - in order to pave the way to a future autonomous assets air-to-air refuelling product.



The Autonomous Taxi, Take-off and Landing (ATTOL) project leveraged computer-vision technologies and techniques to successfully complete fully autonomous taxi, take off, approach and landing using a commercial aircraft, thereby demonstrating a world-first achievement! Hosted by Airbus UpNext until completion in 2020, the state of the art from this concept continues to be developed to drive future concepts.



This local positioning system enables manned and remotely piloted aerial systems (RPAS) to determine their relative position in the harshest environmental conditions. The independent navigation system contributes to easier and safer take-off and landing procedures in GPS-shaded environments that lack reference points or visual cues.

A350 cockpit

DISruptive COckpit (DISCO)

With the objective of continuous safety enhancement and operations efficiency, this R&T project aims at exploring different kinds of cockpit layouts for commercial aircraft of the 21st century.


Airbus UpNext Dragonfly demonstrator


Airbus UpNext DragonFly is a demonstrator that is exploring new pilot assistance technologies to further enhance flight safety and aircraft operational efficiency. The technologies being designed, developed and tested enable an aircraft to identify features in the landscape so that it can “see” and safely manoeuvre within its surroundings, these include and are to be applied to automated emergency operations (diversion) in cruise as well as automatic landing whatever the weather conditions and on ground taxi assistance.


extended Minimum Crew Operation (eMCO)

Extended Minimum Crew Operations (previously CONNECT project) enables the flight crew to better organise their presence in the cockpit during the cruise phase, thanks to additional automated functions. Pilots can thus achieve a better balance between working and resting time on long-range flights.


Future Combat Air System (FCAS)

This European defence programme aims to connect the next-generation fighter aircraft to other aerial vehicles through a system-of-systems approach that is enabled by advanced analytics and AI.


San Fran Wayfinder


This Acubed project builds scalable, certifiable autonomy systems that power self-piloted aircraft applications throughout Airbus, from small urban aerial vehicles to large commercial aircraft.


Through this project, autonomous features are introduced to the helicopters Flightlab. These technologies aim to simplify mission preparation and management, reduce helicopter pilot workload, and further increase safety.

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Latest news

Aerial refuelling without human intervention
Aerial refuelling is an increasingly vital capability for military force projection, and Airbus-developed technology to automate the in-flight “topping off” of aircraft will revolutionise this process – with wider applications for both the defence and civil aviation sectors.
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UTM is a key enabler of AAM
Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) is a completely new ecosystem that has to deal with unmanned vehicles. Air Traffic Management (ATM), our current system which relies on human controllers communicating with pilots, cannot handle the integration of these new aerial vehicles (passenger and cargo drones, air taxis, and other eVTOLs), which will fly together in low-altitude airspace and will be either fully autonomous or piloted remotely.
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Airbus achieves in-flight autonomous guidance and control of a drone from a tanker aircraft
Airbus Defence and Space and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Airbus UpNext, have achieved in-flight autonomous guidance and control of a drone using an A310 MRTT.
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Discover Autonomous & Connected at Airbus

Unmanned traffic solutions for the safe entry of drones and future air taxis into the lower airspace.

Unmanned Traffic Management

Incorporating autonomy into today’s airspace


Unmanned Aerial Systems

Pioneering the future of UAS capabilities



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