The world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing [NYSE: BA] has announced its latest investment in autonomous aircraft. Boeing purchased Near Earth Autonomy, a Pittsburgh-based company “focused on developing a portfolio of technologies that enable safe and reliable autonomous flight.”Near Earth Autonomy, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics
Near Earth Autonomy, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, is a software and sensor technology company that enables aircraft of any size to inspect, map and survey terrain and infrastructure, as well as transport cargo autonomously. They have developed the first full-size autonomous helicopter for the U.S. Army, as well as an aerial cargo transport service for the U.S. Marines.
“In addition to the investment, Boeing and Near Earth Autonomy also announced a partnership to explore future products and applications for emerging markets such as urban mobility,” says Boeing.
“This partnership will accelerate technology solutions that we feel will be key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight,” said Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX vice president. “We are excited to begin this partnership with a company with such a depth of experience in autonomy so we can leverage the scale of Boeing to innovate for our customers.”
Boeing Horizon X Ventures was established in April to invest in new businesses representing game-changing ideas in aerospace. The investment in Near Earth Autonomy is the first in autonomous technologies.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Near Earth,” said Sanjiv Singh, CEO, Near Earth Autonomy. “The Boeing HorizonX investment will accelerate the development of robust products and enable access to a broader portfolio of applications for aerial autonomy.”
As the “leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems,” Boeing is well placed to support Near Earth’s projects for the U.S. Military and to move towards commercialization. Boeing already owns unmanned aircraft company Insitu, a major military service provider now making significant inroads in the large enterprise market. With the addition of Near Earth to the Boeing family, Boeing companies are poised to take a major position in the commercial drone ecosystem.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.