Boeing HorizonX makes first investment in autonomous technologies

21 October, 2017, 21:36 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Boeing said it would buy Aurora Flight Sciences Corp to help it advance the development of autonomous electric-powered and long-flight-duration aircraft for its commercial and military businesses

Both organizations will also collaborate to explore future products and applications for future markets such as urban mobility, Boeing said Thursday.

Now, the aviation company's HorizonX Ventures division has announced its investment in Near Earth Autonomy - a company that focuses on technologies that enable reliable autonomous flight - further solidifying its support for these burgeoning technologies.

In a news release, Boeing HorizonX Vice President Steve Nordlund said "this partnership will accelerate technology solutions that we feel will be key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight".

The aerospace industry and Silicon Valley alike are increasingly excited about the potential for self-flying taxis and VTOLs for cargo, along with drone package delivery, so Boeing looking around for a good partner in the space makes a lot of sense.

Boeing announced the new collaboration two weeks after agreeing to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences, a company with a portfolio of innovations in aerodynamics, aircraft structures and autonomy.

Boeing will invest and partner with a commercial spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute that specialises in in developing sensors for unmanned aircraft to avoid collisions.

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Singh leads the technical and business strategy for the company.

Based in Pittsburgh, Near Earth Autonomy develops technology for unmanned aircraft, ranging from drones used to map crops, to autonomous drones meant to carry human passengers. "The Boeing HorizonX investment will accelerate the development of robust products and enable access to a broader portfolio of applications for aerial autonomy".

The company is now working with the US Office of Naval Research in developing an autonomous aerial cargo delivery platform for the US Marines.

Boeing HorizonX says the investment in Near Earth is its first in autonomous flight technologies.

Boeing is the largest aerospace company in the world. At that time, HorizonX's initial investments were with two early-stage technology companies: Washington DC-based virtual reality software developer Upskill and Kirkland, Washington-based alternative propulsion aircraft developer Zunum Aero. A key area of his expertise is in perception and planning for air and ground vehicles.

The start-up's work in the field dates back several years to its roots within Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. Near Earth is his third commercial venture.

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