LiquidPiston wins US Air Force contract

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Elroy Air joins advanced air mobility project

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April 6, 2021

Liquid Piston

The U.S. Air Force awarded LiquidPiston Inc. a $150,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract to adapt its high-efficiency, hybrid cycle, rotary X-Engine for use in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles to carry people and cargo. The engine is being evaluated for direct power or hybrid-electric propulsion.

The contract supports AFWERX Agility Prime, a non-traditional program seeking to leverage commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles for government missions and the emerging commercial market.

LiquidPiston’s X-Engine can operate on JP-8, jet fuel, diesel, and other heavy fuels. Coupled with a generator, it can charge UAS batteries during flight to extend electric propulsion system range or be configured in parallel with an electric drive, using the engine directly to produce thrust or lift.

Elroy Air joins advanced air mobility project

San Francisco, California-based unmanned aerial systems (UAS) developer Elroy Air is joining NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign to integrate urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles into the national airspace system.

Along with other partners, Elroy Air will share information to accelerate AAM operations through tests starting in 2022 that will assess the safety of automation and vehicle designs.

“Elroy Air is pursuing fully autonomous in-flight capability as well as semi-autonomous and automated ground and payload handling operations,” says Starr Ginn, AAM National Campaign lead. “This partnership will help inform development of landing zones and ground operations, in addition to aircraft storage, maintenance, infrastructure, and procedures.”

Elroy Air will test its Chaparral hybrid electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, designed to deliver 250 lb to 500 lb of cargo across 300 miles, as a commercial or medical supply transport.