Taking flight: Air taxi and delivery drone research awards are made

A research network that includes Wright State University, the University of Dayton Research Institute and Sinclair Community College awarded $6.3 million to four teams to support research into air taxis and delivery drones, the network has announced.

Funding was awarded under the network’s “Sustaining Ohio’s Aeronautical Readiness and Innovation in the Next Generation (SOARING) initiative,” the Ohio Federal Research Network said in an announcement.

The SOARING initiative is designed to develop and sustain unmanned air systems (UASs), personal air vehicles, and logistics delivery air vehicles.

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The four awarded projects are:

• Autonomous/ Remote Piloted “Air Uber” System, led by Dayton’s Persistent Surveillance Systems.

• Regional Unmanned Traffic Management System led by the University of Cincinnati.

• UAV Detect-and-Avoid Sensor Fusion, led by Ghostwave Inc. in Columbus.

• Brushless Doubly-Fed Machine and Drive System, led by The Ohio State University.

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Sinclair College, the University of Dayton Research Institute, Wright State University, business Autonodyne (which is expected to open an office in Ohio), Bosma Technical Services, of Tipp City, are expected to participate in the project.

Springfield’s Demeter UAVs, Akron’s Event 38 Unmanned Systems, IS4S (which is expected to open an office in Beavercreek), Lockheed Martin Procerus Technologies (of Vineyard, Utah), MacAir Aviation and MacNauchtan Development, both of Xenia, will also take part, as will Simlat Inc., of Miamisburg.

Projects must focus on priority research initiatives of the Air Force Research Lab, the Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), and the National Aeronautical and Space Administration’s Glenn Research Center.

Each project includes at least two Ohio universities, an industry member and engagement with an Ohio-based arm of a federal partner, the network said.

Applicants must also propose a live flight demonstration for the technologies they develop.

These awards “will drive innovation,” said Ricky Peters, chair of the network’s executive review board. “Each requires an actual demonstration at the end of the project which is very exciting.”

Peters added: “I think our only concern is that we were only able to award funding to four of the five recommended projects. We are hopeful that we’ll be able to identify additional funds because all of the recommended proposals are of such caliber they deserve to move forward.”

In three years, the network said it has leveraged $32 million in state funds to attract nearly $120 million in new research awards, with $350 million more in its funding pipeline.

The network’s research projects include 11 universities and community colleges throughout the state and 56 industry partners.

“Because of (the network), we are now seeing groups of researchers from both the public and private sector working together with our federal partners to leverage Ohio’s research assets, in ways that had never occurred before,” said network Executive Director Dennis Andersh.

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