Unmanned aircraft are an important extension to aviation. Comparable to industrial robots which are executing dangerous or monotonous actions to support the personnel, unmanned flights are relieving the pilots of dangerous and monotonous missions. Possible scenarios are flights in disaster areas, maintenance of power supply lines or oil pipelines, traffic supervision (flights between buildings) or under bad environmental conditions (fog, storm).
The desired missions for future unmanned aircraft are typically complex and require different capabilities. For this reason, basic research on many topics is needed. The unmanned aircraft department at the DLR Institute of Flight Systems tackles this with activities focused on (For details, see Working Groups and Infrastructure):
Goal is the easy and safe operation of unmanned aircraft in unknown terrain. For this, human pilot interactions shall be minimized with a high automation level of the overall system. Further, the department works on the concurrent operation of manned and unmanned aircraft in the same airspace, hardware and software development, and certification aspects.
Key aspects for the applications and the belonging methods are modern air and space vehicles with its different sub-systems and supporting processes. Further, the research area of unmanned aircraft includes topics beside the traditional aerospace domain (e.g. computer science). Due to the research results, development and evaluation capabilities are gained which make the department an attractive partner for industry, government and other research institutes outside aerospace.
For the realization of the research topics, the department has access to a variety of experimental unmanned aircraft. Beside a fleet of unmanned helicopters with different sizes, automatic controlled fixed-wing aircraft and parachute load deposing systems are available for research.
Updated publications of the unmanned aircraft department can be found in the DLR's electronic library database.
The Unmanned Aircraft Department at the DLR-Institute of Flight Systems