The next generation of autoland systems may not require any ILS signals to guide them. Scientists at the Technical University of Munich have equipped a Diamond DA42 with a system called C2Land that allows the aircraft to visually acquire the runway and then calculate a glideslope to put it on the numbers. Because the computer vision at the heart of the system uses visual and infrared sensors, it can find the runways at night and in poor weather and couple that with GPS and algorithms to bring the aircraft down.

After working on the theory and writing three scientific papers on the concept, the scientists conducted a live test a few weeks ago. A pilot was along for the ride and he got the TwinStar pointed in the right direction before the computerized eyes, hands and feet took over. With no input from the pilot, C2Land dropped the gear and flaps and adjusted power and all axis controls for a centerline landing just beyond the numbers.

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