INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

The Switchblade Flying Sports Car and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” Have Something in Common

The Switchblade flying sports car hit 88 mph in runway test runs recently, which was calculated to be the take-off speed of the vehicle. Coincidentally, that is the same speed the famous DeLorean had to reach before it could travel through time in the epic Robert Zemeckis movie “Back to the Future.”

The Switchblade is touted as being a personal “time machine” by the company because of the amount of time it can save people. The vehicle was designed to turn a 10-hour regional driving trip of 500 miles into a 3 ½ hour drive/fly trip, door-to-door. As regional airports exist within a 15-minute drive of where most people live, this kind of use may appeal to those who desire a simplified method of regional travel. “Say goodbye to traffic congestion, weather delays, and rental car/Uber hassles. Say hello to freedom,” says Sam Bousfield, designer of the Switchblade and CEO of Samson Sky, the company behind the vehicle.  

The popularity of the $150,000 flying sports car has continued to grow, with Samson recently gaining what they called “lucky” Reservation Position 1313. Samson reservations manager, Martha Hall Bousfield, reports that Switchblade reservationists hail from an unprecedented 38 countries, including all 50 States in America. 

The Switchblade flying sports car is classified as a motorcycle by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but the Samson Sky team calls it a flying sports car because of its high performance. The engine is a turbo-charged, lightweight 200 hp liquid-cooled V4 that is capable of 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 125+ mph. In the air it is designed to cruise at 160 mph, with a top speed of up to 190 mph and a range of 500 miles. Using Road & Track‘s slalom testing parameters, the Ground Test Vehicle out-performed everything in its wheelbase per Road & Track’s historical data base.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Reno, Nevada Partnership Aims to Equip Fire Department with Drones to Conduct Life-Saving River Search and Rescue Operations

Under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP), earlier this week Iris Automation conducted a live drone flight demonstration for the City of Reno Fire Department of its Casia onboard Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) collision avoidance system, which enables safe beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

The demonstration took place in Nevada over the Carson River at Fort Churchill State Historic Park, using a drone integrated with Casia to illustrate how this cutting-edge technology will be used to provide automated situational awareness for drones and their pilots. Technologies like onboard DAA are critical to ensuring that drones are safely integrated into the national airspace and able to avoid collisions with other manned aircraft. 

The River Search and Rescue program will test the safety and capability of using drones during river rescue missions in an effort to improve response times and reduce exposure of both first responders and victims to dangerous conditions during river rescue operations.

“Through this CONOP, we aim to implement rescue operations supported by drone technology within the Truckee River region in the near future,” Reno Fire Chief Dave Cochran said. “Water exposure, especially in moving-water incidents, is extremely dynamic and dangerous for victims and first responders. The use of drones will increase our safety and increase our efficiency. I’m thrilled that we’re looking for an innovative approach to help improve our river response.” 

Ensuring a safe community and a well-maintained public infrastructure is a strategic priority for the City of Reno. This program has the potential to increase the survival rate of victims during river rescue operations while helping to develop safe practices for drone usage throughout the United States.

In May 2018, the City of Reno was selected by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) as one of nine state, local and tribal governments to participate in the FAA UAS IPP. The UAS IPP is working with the nine public-private partnerships to implement and study specific drone applications across the United States in an effort to advance the safe integration of drones into the nation’s airspace.

“The City of Reno has been a leader in the UAS community, and this demonstration is another example of the application of these technologies for public benefit,” said Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation. “Our priority at Iris is the safe integration of UAS into the airspace, and we are excited to continue our partnership with the City of Reno and the FAA to extend these capabilities to the Fire Department and First Responders.”

While the FAA’s UAS IPP is slated to conclude operations on October 24, the partnership will continue to progress to further advance the River Search and Rescue Program. Initial BVLOS flight operations will take place at the Carson River location with future testing to be conducted over the Truckee River as soon as next year.

FLIGHT OPS iTINNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

CargoAi: Digitalization for Connecting Cargo Industry

The founders of CargoAi come from the air cargo industry, and they say that sets them apart from the many e-booking platforms who are emerging. Digital transformation is no longer disruptive, it’s already here. By combining their cargo experience with world-leading technology, the CargoAi team says it is facilitating the industry’s transformation. CargoAi says their product proves how simple digitalization can be.

The idea, developed by Matthieu Petot, CEO and founder of CargoAi, is to connect 100% of airlines and GSAs to freight forwarders by simplifying the entire process via an intuitive online platform. “Forget about the traditional airfreight software that takes years of implementation and training – we have taken our inspiration from the many modern applications that have been built recently and the SaaS model where training, support and the user journey is very intuitive,” says Petot.

CargoAi allows freight forwarders to connect with 100% of airlines from every country in the world, either via direct API connections or a unique and efficient quote issuing/booking process. The company says this innovation offers an enormous advantage: it is no longer necessary to make individual connections with each airline. It is intuitive, modular, and offers fully tailor-made solutions to all airlines and freight forwarders (both large and small alike). Making connections is now possible, with or without a sophisticated IT system – and GSAs also benefit from bespoke solutions.

This level of simplification has been made possible by the CargoAi team’s proven experience of air cargo management: “Through our experience in cargo, we saw that the buying and selling processes hadn’t moved forward. We brought together the best talents, we combined their skills to create an online platform considering the obstacles of digitalization in our sector. We can then respond to the specific needs of air cargo stakeholders as closely as possible,” added Petot.

These talents include a former solutions architect at Amazon and Microsoft, head of product & design at FCS Computer Systems, transformation leader at Air France-KLM and DB Schenker, and global head of business excellence at Dyson. Dozens of people with this level of expertise have now joined the CargoAi team at their HQ based in Singapore, a tech hotspot. 

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Honeywell To Provide Pipistrel With Advanced Flight Control Technology For Unmanned Cargo Aircraft

Pipistrel has selected Honeywell’s Compact Fly-By-Wire system for the Nuuva V300 cargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), choosing a modern, lightweight, highly capable system with a proven architecture ideally suited for their autonomous cargo UAV.

Fly-by-wire computers act as the “brains” of an aircraft’s flight controls by operating them electronically and can be found inside nearly all large fixed-wing aircraft today. The compact version from Honeywell has features derived from decades of expertise in fly-by-wire systems for airliners, but it’s much smaller — roughly the size of a paperback book. This product is intended for smaller autonomous cargo and urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles and adds stability and performance by driving flight controls electrically, without heavy hydraulics, control cables or push rods.

“One of the toughest challenges logistics companies face today is meeting the demand for same-day delivery. Vehicles like Pipistrel’s Nuuva V300 are going to be a real breakthrough in the race to solve this problem,” said Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager, unmanned aerial systems (UAS)/UAM, Honeywell Aerospace. “We listened to our customers and built a product that meets the unique needs of this segment, and we’re extremely proud that our Compact Fly-By-Wire system will be guiding these vehicles as they take to the skies.”

Pipistrel’s Nuuva V300 is a long-range, large-capacity, autonomous UAV. It will take off and land vertically with battery power, meaning it does not require a runway, and has significantly lower operating costs than helicopters. It can carry loads up to 300 kilograms (around 660 pounds) for more than 300 kilometers (around 186 miles), making it an ideal solution for deliveries to areas traditionally accessible only by helicopter.

“After years of excellent cooperation in the UAM sector, we chose to work with Honeywell in the development of the Nuuva V300 as well,” said Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Group. “We see this cargo aircraft paving the way for the passenger-carrying Pipistrel 801, our proposed air taxi for Uber Elevate, as both aircraft share similar architectures. Honeywell’s expertise and the proven capabilities of its Compact Fly-By-Wire system will provide airliner levels of safety for our novel air vehicles.”

Honeywell is offering a full line of avionics, flight control, navigation, radar, communications, actuation, cooling, motors and turbo-electric propulsion systems — all tailored for piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) urban air mobility and unmanned cargo vehicles. Honeywell also offers aerospace integration and certification expertise for enabling the commercialization of these vehicles.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

BAE Systems Rolls Out New Platform Cyber Protection Capability

BAE Systems has unveiled a next-generation cyber-threat detection and mitigation solution for U.S. military platforms.

The Fox Shield™ suite is designed to help platforms detect, respond, and recover from cyber attacks in real time. The system’s cyber resilience capabilities can be integrated into ground, air, and space vehicles to protect our warfighters and platforms from cyber attacks designed to access and degrade mission capabilities.

“Cyber protection was not necessarily a mission-critical capability when some of these platforms were first developed. That’s why we designed the Fox Shield cyber resilience system to be easily integrated into new and legacy platforms,” said Michael Weber, technical manager for FAST Labs’ Cyber Technology group at BAE Systems. “Security for our warfighters and their platforms is our mission, and this solution offers valuable protection in the cyber domain.”

The Fox Shield solution is the result of a multi-year effort from BAE Systems’ FAST Labs™ research and development team. It was developed with ongoing internal investment and builds upon baseline technology that has proven effective on other platforms as previously announced.

The mature detection capability – technical readiness level eight – enables real-time detection of cyber attacks, enabling the platform and users to respond and recover from their effects and ensuring mission continuity. The detection capability can be implemented on existing platform computer systems or as a stand-alone solution that provides protection while limiting impacts to size, weight, and power constraints.

The Fox Shield cyber resilience suite builds on BAE Systems’ cyber technology portfolio. As part of this program, the company continues to invest in effective response and recovery techniques and has demonstrated proof-of-concept capabilities. Work for the program will take place at the company’s facilities in New Hampshire and Virginia.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Wabtec Becomes First Manufacturing Anchor Tenant for Pittsburgh’s Additive Hub at Neighborhood 91

Wabtec Corporation announced that it will join Neighborhood 91, the additive manufacturing production campus at Pittsburgh’s International Airport Innovation Campus. Neighborhood 91 is the first development in the world to both condense and connect all components of the additive manufacturing and 3D printing supply chain into one powerful production ecosystem.

The agreement makes Wabtec the first manufacturing anchor tenant at Neighborhood 91 and builds upon the company’s growing additive technology capabilities and footprint in western Pennsylvania, which includes 3D-printing labs in Erie and Grove City.  

“Additive technology is a key focus area for us that provides new capabilities to drive innovation where traditional manufacturing could not,” said Eric Gebhardt, Wabtec’s Chief Technology Officer. “This agreement continues our investment in resources that enable our engineers to design new and complex products for the industries we serve. As the first development in the world to connect all elements of the additive manufacturing supply chain into a single location, Neighborhood 91 is the ideal location to fully realize the potential of this technology.”

Wabtec will employ the latest in additive manufacturing technology to produce state-of-the-art, large-scale, lightweight parts for transit rail customers and reduce lead times by up to 80 percent. Production will include metal aluminum transit components like brake parts and heat sinks for freight locomotives. By 2025, the company plans to use additive manufacturing in the production of over 25,000 parts.

“Wabtec’s commitment to Neighborhood 91 is the latest example of our region continuing to move forward even in a pandemic,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “A Fortune 500 company, Wabtec’s decision to select Neighborhood 91 for its next manufacturing facility is a huge step for the development and Pittsburgh International Airport.”

The Neighborhood 91 concept is based on co-located capital resources at the core of the development. It will house a complete end-to-end ecosystem offering:

–          Powder, parts, post-production, testing and analysis

–          Common powder storage facilities

–          Efficiencies in production/post-production and delivery

–          Tenants’ clients cost savings from on-demand printing

–          Reduced transportation costs

–          Airport access

–          And perhaps the most important, argon, helium and other noble gases, which are essential elements of additive manufacturing, reaching up to 60 percent of additive manufacturing costs.

“Part of our vision as an airport is to advance the region’s role as a world leader,” said Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis. “Additive manufacturing is looking for a place to call home and now, with Neighborhood 91, that vision is becoming reality. Neighborhood 91 is designed for industry leaders like Wabtec to advance the application of additive technologies for their customers. By condensing the supply chain, this campus will accelerate the adoption of additive in the manufacturing space.”

Neighborhood 91, developed in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, is the first development of the 195-acre Pittsburgh Airport Innovation Campus. Wabtec will occupy more than 11,000 square feet of space at Neighborhood 91, which is currently under construction and targeting completion by Spring 2021. The company will be able to ship parts immediately from the airport to any location in the world within 24 hours, which will improve supply chain performance and cut transportation costs.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Aquiline Drones Signs Manufacturing and Distribution License Agreement with Drone Volt

Hartford-based manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and cloud solutions provider for commercial drone operations,Aquiline Drones (AD), has announced that it has signed exclusive U. S. manufacturing and distribution licensing agreements with Drone Volt (ALDRV.PA), a French aeronautic manufacturer of professional civilian drones, on-board artificial intelligence, edge computing and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) production.

Under the terms of this five-year agreement, Aquiline Drones will take over the global production of two popular and proven drones from Drone Volt’s suite of products, including the Hercules 2 and the highly coveted, Altura Zenith. Aquiline Drones will also be the sole manufacturer of the Pensar smart camera, a multispectral sensor, complete with artificial intelligence and edge computing capabilities. 

Further to this collaboration, Aquiline Drones will be the exclusive provider of the Hercules 2, Altura Zenith and the Pensar in the United States, thus filling a much-needed gap in American-made drone products and systems. 

“We are delighted beyond measure for this aptly timed and mutually beneficial union with Drone Volt,” said Barry Alexander, CEO and founder of Aquiline Drones. “While we have been in operation for just under two years, we spent almost four years incubating this idea of making Hartford ‘Drone Central’ and the State of Connecticut the ‘Drone Capital’ of the US. Our partnership with Drone Volt has catapulted us to the front of the line with world-class design and unmatched capabilities in the commercial drone space.”

“This contract is a historic step for our group as it turns the largest market in the world into an important profit sector. Over the last months, we have created a strong relationship with the Aquiline Drones’ team, which could lead to additional contracts in the future,” said Sylvain Navarro, CFO of Drone Volt.

The new development comes on the heel of the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) announcement on October 9th, that it has officially banned the use of DOJ funds to purchase or operate any drone from ‘covered foreign’ countries. China is estimated to originate more than 70% of the global share of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) drones. This development paves the way for US-based manufacturers of drones, such as Aquiline Drones, to enter an industry growing at 13.8% annually with a potential market of $127 billion.

“Being able to fill the national UAS void with competitively-priced, American-made drone products and supporting 100% US supply chain is a must –  we are extremely proud of this achievement,” said Retired General Brooks Bash, Chief Strategic Advisor at Aquiline Drones.  “What started as a casual conversation between our companies has quickly morphed into a close collaboration of synergies to address the needs of an extremely underserved market worldwide and, principally, in the United States.” 

Aquiline Drones’ production process will manufacture 1,300 by the end of 2020 and an expected output rate of 10,000 drones per month by the end of 2021. The company will also add 55 new technical and manufacturing jobs in Hartford by year’s end, with the goal of exceeding 1,000 positions by the end of 2024.

Raza Khanji, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Aquiline Drones, will be responsible for the  technology integration with Drone Volt on the combined platforms, artificial intelligence and end-to-end IoT connectivity along with implementing AD’s blockchain infrastructure.  Khanji also heads AD’s Total Planetary Protection (TPP) initiative which includes AD Academy’s novel Flight to the Future (F2F) drone pilot training program, accessed via ADflight.to/future.

As part of the terms of the deal, both companies will exchange 10% of each company’s ownership with the other, an arrangement scheduled to be completed before year-end 2020. 

“We believe an exchange in equity strengthens our commitment to each other to ensure we do what we can to move both brands forward optimally,” noted Alexander. “Our partnership with Drone Volt, as a publicly-traded company in Europe, will ensure robust and steady growth for its shareholders, while allowing us at Aquiline Drones access to years of cutting-edge research and development in UAS technology. This union makes both companies more potent than the sum of our parts, allowing for a US-based provider of commercial drone solutions both at home and abroad.”

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Iris Automation Partners with CED Alma and MVT Geo-solutions to Conduct Commercial BVLOS Missions in Quebec

Transport Canada has issued the second Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights in uncontrolled airspace utilizing infrastructure masking and Iris Automation’s onboard detect-and-avoid (DAA) solution to MVT Geo-solutions. 

Under this SFOC, MVT, the UAS Center of Excellence (CED Alma), and Iris Automation will partner to conduct commercial missions over linear power lines in Alma, Quebec. Approval was granted to include the utilization of Iris Automation’s DAA system, Casia, which provides commercial drones with automated collision avoidance maneuvers.  

These flights will mark the partnership’s first BVLOS flights outside of the CED Alma test range that will leverage onboard DAA for air risk mitigation and does not require ground-based visual observers or radar. It is the second BVLOS waiver the partnership has secured in Canada, with the first waiver being limited to flights within the Center of Excellence’s controlled airspace. 

BVLOS flights unlock autonomous drone use for economically beneficial commercial applications including infrastructure inspection, mining, mapping, agriculture, emergency response, and package delivery. 

“This permission further demonstrates how the Casia onboard detect-and-avoid (DAA) system is helping to advance the safety case for drone usage while simultaneously expanding the envelope of drone-related use cases,” said Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation. “Drones offer tremendous promise in terms of safety and economics as compared to piloted aviation alternatives, but we must integrate them into the airspace safely. Seeing and avoiding other aircraft is paramount to that safety, and steps like this are key to unlocking the promise of drones.”

“Obtaining this Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) is a first in Quebec,” explains Mr. Alain Fortin, president of the UAS Center of Excellence. “As a Canadian pioneer in the civil and commercial RPAS industry, Alma’s CED is proud to have contributed to the development of technologies and skills that speed up the advent of safe and well-integrated BVLOS flight in Canadian airspace.” 

Resulting flight missions from this approval will help inform more complex commercial operations in the future, the companies say.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Boom Supersonic Rolls Out XB-1 Demonstrator

Boom Supersonic unveiled its supersonic demonstrator, XB-1, an independently developed supersonic jet. To design and build XB-1, Boom says it recruited a team of experts from around the industry, forged relationships with key suppliers, and built a strong safety culture. XB-1 is slated to fly for the first time in 2021 and will undergo a 100% carbon-neutral flight test program. Boom’s innovations include developing one of the highest-efficiency civil supersonic engine intakes ever tested, demonstrating Boom’s ability to deliver a breakthrough in propulsive efficiency for Overture, the company’s proposed passenger transport aircraft.

“Boom continues to make progress towards our founding mission—making the world dramatically more accessible,” said Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO. “XB-1 is an important milestone towards the development of our commercial airliner, Overture, making sustainable supersonic flight mainstream and fostering human connection.”

After rollout, XB-1 will complete its ongoing, extensive ground test program before heading to Mojave, California in 2021 for flight test. At the same time, the company will finalize Overture’s propulsion system and conduct wind tunnel tests to validate aircraft design. When XB-1 breaks the sound barrier in flight, Boom says it will be finalizing the design of Overture, whose own rollout is on track for 2025.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

maxon Develops Ultra-Efficient UAV Drive with Startup Flybotix

maxon has collaborated with drone startup Flybotix to develop performance-optimized brushless DC motors for a new kind of inspection drone. With the know-how gained from this and other projects, maxon is making inroads into the new UAV market, where the reliability and quality of components are becoming more important.

Two rotors instead of four was the approach used by startup Flybotix to develop the ASIO inspection drone, which is set to conquer the market. This indoor drone for industrial facilities is built around a patented drive system powered by brushless DC motors from maxon. maxon worked closely with Flybotix to develop electric motors that are optimized for weight and performance and specifically adapted to this application. These drives will allow the ASIO to carry out long missions, reach distant locations, and save costs. “This world-class level of performance could not have been reached without the excellent work of maxon,” said Samir Bouabdallah, CEO of Flybotix. “We are very excited about this partnership and will intensify it in order to advance the industrialization of our drone.”

Flybotix is a Swiss company in the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne, which is also home to one of maxon’s innovation labs. CEO and founder Samir Bouabdallah has 15 years of experience in developing drone technology at the EPFL and at ETH Zurich. The drive system he developed with his team is an algorithm- controlled propulsion and steering mechanism with two degrees of freedom. “That gives the drones the aerodynamic performance of a helicopter and the mechanical reliability of a quadcopter.” ASIO is surrounded by a protective cage, is collision-proof, and allows access to tight spaces to carry out inspections safely. An on-board camera, combined with a high-quality display on the remote control, allows pilots to fly safely in hazardous areas such as oil storage tanks, underground mines, or power plants.

The market for unmanned autonomous aerial vehicles (UAV) is new, but very dynamic—many startups like Flybotix are involved, and there are potential applications in areas like inspection, agriculture, security, and transport. Following the industry’s initial ventures and a few setbacks, the safety requirements placed on unmanned aerial vehicles and their components has increased.

In 2019, a number of initial drives were constructed for special projects, with matching ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers). In the drone market, the motor is not the only thing that matters. What is far more important is the perfect interplay of BLDC motors, motor controllers, and matching propellers. That is the only way to get the most out of the system in terms of thrust and energy efficiency. maxon’s engineers were eager to learn as much as they could from experts like Samir Bouabdallah and to foster information exchange, right from the start. With the experience gained, maxon is ready to support customers in the fast-growing UAV market with customized motors and systems.

Ingenuity, which will take off from the surface of Mars in 2021, is equipped with six maxon DC motors.

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