An automatic landing system has been created by a team of German researchers which enables small aircraft to land on their own without requiring any input from a pilot. That’s not all, the planes can touch down without requiring any additional technology on the ground either. This could really provide a glimpse into the future of air travel.

Modern airplanes have sophisticated autopilot systems but they can’t land on their own just yet. Large aircraft that are used for commercial flights don’t really have fully autonomous landing systems. Their glide down is controlled using the Instrument Landing System or ILS which requires hardware that emits a set of radio signals. ILS is found largely at major airports.

These radio signals can tell the airplane where the runway is even when the visibility is poor but the actual touchdown is still handled by pilots. Researchers at the Technische Universität München have developed a system which allows small airplanes to land without needing a ground system. It uses visible-light and infrared cameras on the nose with a computer vision processor.

The computer was trained to recognize and characterize the runway with the system then guiding the aircraft through the landing approach completely on its own. This system would be very useful for small planes that normally land at smaller airports where ILS isn’t present. It will enable them to safely land even in when the weather is bad. This technology is still in the experimental stage, though, so it may be a while before it gets the all-clear from aviation authorities.

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