AAC secures AFWERX contract for tactical UAS

Departments - Up and Soaring

Reliable Robotics, Vantis partner on autonomous aviation; UAV Factory, JAI rebrand.

May 2, 2022

Photo credit: Advanced Aircraft Co.

The U. S. Air Force selected Hampton, Virginia-based Advanced Aircraft Co. (AAC), a developer of long-endurance hybrid-electric unmanned aircraft systems, for its AFWERX program developing small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). Through a competitive awards-based program, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Open Topics program enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

AAC’s hybrid advanced multirotor (HAMR) UAS incorporates a multi-rotor configuration with a hybrid gasoline-electric propulsion system for extended endurance and multiple, simultaneous payload capabilities, and can be optimized for defense applications and mission profiles.

“Our HAMR UAV’s high-performance, efficient propulsion system, rugged aerodynamic airframe, and ease of serviceability in the field make it ideally suited for demanding military operations in the most inhospitable environments,” says Bill Fredericks, ACC founder.

With a flight endurance up to 3.5 hours – 6x longer than a conventional battery-powered multirotor aircraft – the HAMR systems employ line replaceable units (LRUs) for rapid in-the-field servicing.

Operators can choose commercially available optical or infrared cameras and LiDAR systems or standard payloads for defense applications, including electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), laser, and communications systems.

Reliable Robotics, Vantis partner on autonomous aviation

Photo credit: Reliable Robotics

Autonomous aircraft system developer Reliable Robotics will work with Vantis in North Dakota to certify its uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) for widespread commercial adoption.

The Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) administers Vantis, and the collaboration directly supports the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s participation in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) BEYOND program for UAS.

“Vantis and Reliable Robotics are working toward expanding the capabilities of large UAS operations,” says Trevor Woods, NPUASTS executive director.

Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Reliable Robotics was founded in 2017, and within 18-months, flew an uncrewed Cessna 172 over a populated area in controlled airspace. The company demonstrated remote piloting from its control center in 2021 and is currently working toward certification of its remotely operated aircraft system on a Cessna 208 Caravan cargo aircraft.

“We have a long-standing relationship with NPUASTS and share a vision of enabling UAS and remotely piloted operations at scale across North Dakota,” says Robert Rose, Reliable Robotics’ co-founder and CEO.

UAV Factory, JAI rebrand

Following its merger with Jennings Aeronautics (JAI) in September 2021, unmanned and autonomous technology company UAV Factory rebranded and will go to market as Edge Autonomy.

The former JAI headquarters in San Luis Obispo, California, will serve as Edge Autonomy’s headquarters. The combined company of small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platform and camera payload manufacturers is backed by Florida-based private equity firm AE Industrial Partners.

The company’s unmanned technologies are used in nearly 60 countries by government, commercial, and academic customers. Edge Autonomy has more than 150,000ft2 of manufacturing facilities on two continents, with key support offices located in Bend, Oregon, and Herndon, Virginia.