Boeing invests in autonomous flight technology company

By Richard Tomkins  |  Oct. 20, 2017 at 10:48 AM
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Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Boeing has invested in Near Earth Autonomy, a company developing a portfolio of technologies for reliable automatic flight.

The U.S. airline manufacturing giant and the Pittsburgh-based company also teamed to look into business opportunities in emerging markets, Boeing said in a news release Thursday.

"This partnership will accelerate technology solutions that we feel will be key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight," Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX vice president, said in a statement. "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."

The Near Earth Autonomy deal marks the first investment in autonomous technologies by Boeing HorizonX Ventures, which was started earlier this year.

Near Earth Autonomy is a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. Boeing called it "a leader in software and sensor technology that enables aircraft ranging from sub-meter to full scale to inspect, map and survey terrain and infrastructure, as well as transport cargo autonomously."

Partnered with U.S. Army, the company previously conducted the first full-size autonomous helicopter flights. Near Earth Autonomy is also working with Office of Naval Research to create an autonomous aerial cargo delivery platform for the U.S. Marines.

Sanjiv Singh, chief executive officer of Near Earth Autonomy, said Boeing's investment will offer his company access to more applications for autonomous flight.

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