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Airtificial develops a robotic cell for flight control sticks

Source: Airtificial, Defence Industry Europe

Airtificial has successfully completed a robotic innovation project funded by the European Union. The Aerospace & Defense business unit has designed and manufactured a robotic cell and test bench that optimizes the development and testing times of aircraft flight control sticks. The project’s objective was, during the sticks’ testing phase, to achieve better test results, to implement added value in the development of these high-tech products, and to increase their adaptability to different sticks. As a result, Airtificial’s test bench and the robotic cells optimize the three fundamental aspects of the project: test optimization, added value tasks, and adaptability to a wide range of different types of flight control sticks.

The project, known as the Robotic Active Inceptor Test System (ROSSI), sought to overcome a technological gap in the aerospace industry, namely the automatic testing of modern flight sticks or active inceptors. These new controls have enhanced features that improve pilots’ in-flight experience and coordination, but up until now, the testing of these new features was rudimentary and manual. Tests whose execution depends on human elements are subject to delays and unforeseen events, while automatic tests follow a strict schedule that allows for optimal process execution.

 

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This project has developed a fully automatic test bench capable of simulating the haptic behaviour of pilots’ hands. Airtificial’s robotic system developed is capable of programming an infinite number of movements that mimic the real behaviour of a pilot in different flight modes, such as automatic, flight/autopilot mode, or docked/undocked mode.

As a result of Airtificial’s innovation work, the three key features of the proyect have been improved. The new robotic system and high-precision sensor enable the test bench to enhance the automatic testing process of the flight stick performance by 100%. The stick manufacturer will be able to improve the added value tasks of the testing process by 90% by being able to divert the resources previously required by the test bench to the analysis of results and the validation of the performance tests themselves. The third improvement is the redevelopment of the test bench software, which has demonstrated great flexibility by being able to adapt to different types of sticks and to design and modify new tests.

The architecture of the automated test bench comprises several key high-tech components. Specifically, Airtificial has successfully integrated two industrial robotic arms, a double test climatic chamber, a test table, and a control electronics cabinet into this project. The robotic arms play a crucial role in the operation, as they interact directly with the flight control sticks.

 

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Airtificial Aerospace & Defense has over 15 years of experience in the design, development and mass production of flight control sticks or inceptors for aircrafts, making it one of the European companies with the greatest know-how and continuous innovation in this kind of products for the aerospace industry.

This project has received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No. 884426. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and the Clean Sky 2 JU members.

 

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