Red Cat’s Teal 2 Makes GSA Advantage List

Red Cat Teal 2 GSA AdvantageTeal’s presence on the original Blue sUAS list  – the Defense Innovation Unit’s first list of “approved” platforms – has paid off for the company.  GSA Advantage is the U.S. government’s online shopping and ordering site: with addition to the GSA Advantage list, Red Cat gets an opportunity to market and sell Teal 2 to more government customers, more easily.

Red Cat’s Teal 2 Available for Purchase through GSA Advantage

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Military drone technology company Red Cat Holdings announced that its Teal 2 military-grade sUAS is now available for purchase by government agencies through the U.S. government’s GSA Advantage website. Potential customers are able to access complete specs, hi-res images and government-specific pricing for the Teal 2’s 1.8 GHz model and 2.4 GHz model.

The Teal 2 recently obtained clearance from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for designation as a Blue UAS drone, a select group of government authorized drones that are described by the DoD as being, “NDAA compliant, validated as cyber-secure and safe to fly, and are available for government purchase and operation.”

“The Teal 2’s compact size, advanced technology and rugged design make it ideal for the needs of the warfighter, though it’s versatile enough that other federal agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have become early-adopter customers,” said Red Cat Senior VP of Global Defense Solutions, Geoff Hitchcock. “We’re proud to now be able to directly offer the Teal 2 for sale to all U.S. government agencies through GSA Advantage.”

The Teal 2 is the first sUAS to feature Teledyne FLIR’s new Hadron 640R sensor, granting end users the highest resolution thermal imaging in a small (Group 1) form factor, optimized for nighttime operations. Additional technology partners for the Teal 2 include Athena AI, Reveal Technology and Tomahawk Robotics.

The Teal 2 will be exhibited by Red Cat at the Elevate UAV Summit in Miami from July 26th-27th.  Red Cat has also announced that it will report fiscal year-end 2023 financial results for the 12 months ended April 30, 2023 on Thursday, July 27, 2023 after the market close.  From the announcement:

CEO Jeff Thompson and CFO Joseph Hernon will host an earnings conference call at 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 27, 2023 to review financial results and provide an update on corporate developments. Following management’s formal remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session.

Read more:

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Estonian Workshop Launches U-space Sandbox

The Estonian Transport Administration, with funding from the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency, has launched a project to develop a concept for a U-space sandbox. The project commenced last April and recently conducted a workshop in Tartu to discuss the sandbox and to collect feedback on its economic development.

Workshop attendees reviewed preliminary operational concepts for testing and validating U-space services and discussed market and exploitation ideas for attracting users.

ANRA Technologies OÜ (ANRA), in partnership with the Tartu Science Park (TSP) Foundation, who were awarded a contract to develop a sandbox concept for U-space systems, led the daylong workshop hosted at TSP office facilities.

ANRA leads the first phase of the project for developing and integrating U-space and Common Information services for the project named CACTUS (Competent Authority Coordinating Testing in U-space Sandbox). ANRA will provide all the necessary foundational infrastructure to enable the interaction of the various U-space services and exchange data with stakeholders in the ecosystem.

“It’s important for the Estonian Transport Administration to ensure that all interested parties have access to modern and versatile infrastructure for testing and validating any necessary solutions for the development of various innovative technologies,”

said Üllar Salumäe, Director of Aviation at the Estonian Transport Administration.

Establishing a sandbox will open opportunities for the wide-scale development and deployment of uncrewed aviation technologies. This will prepare the way for innovative aviation concepts and safety standards and facilitate the safe testing of automated aviation systems. The long-term aim is to create an environment for technologies that bridge all key stakeholders, including airspace users, industrial companies, and research institutions.

“I’m honoured that ANRA has the privilege of leading the U-space sandbox effort for Estonia,” stated Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO of ANRA. “The workshop is testament to the innovative and collaborative environment in Estonia.”

Workshop attendees were also treated to a tour of possible sandbox operating locations and site surveys of likely facilities that will host an operations centre.

“The Estonian Aviation Academy collocated at Tartu Airport would be a logical home for initial support for the sandbox,” stated Maiken Kull, Vice Rector for Development at the Estonian Aviation Academy. “This, along with other regional resources and capabilities, including strong support from the city of Tartu, aligns nicely with a low-risk initial U-space implementation strategy for Estonia. U-space sandbox also enables drone operators to enter the market with new technologies supporting digital and smart mobility, facilitating more complex unmanned aerial operations.”

The cooperation project “Expertise for the Development of an Unmanned Aviation (U-space) Sandbox” will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.

“The workshop was a great opportunity to discuss important topics that will impact not only the sandbox, but also the wider community developing an ecosystem for enabling future drone services,” said Pirko Konsa, board member at TSP. “We are very excited to help develop something that has tremendous value for the drone industry.”

About Tartu Estonia

Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia and the European Capital of Culture 2024, is the centre of research and development with its internationally renowned universities, rapidly growing startup community, environmentally conscious mindset, and well-developed business ecosystem, offering a “living lab” environment for companies to design their products or services.


Source: Press Release

Easy Aerial Tern

We are happy to announce the unveiling of Easy Aerial’s latest innovation, the Tern VTOL-in-a-Box. The first ever VTOL-in-a-Box, Tern offers a unique design with foldable wings and tail which enables this medium-range VTOL to be stored safely inside a small tactical ground station that fits many types of vehicles.

After take-off, the Tern reliably performs a wide range of missions from ISR, border security patrols, linear inspections, agricultural mapping, and more. It will then autonomously return to its ground station, and perform precision landing and automatic recharging.

Paired with the Tern, the EGV-90 box simplifies deployment like never before. Serving as a fully self-contained mobile ground control station, it streamlines setup and operation in any location, ensuring swift and hassle-free missions.

Additionally, the Tern VTOL-in-a-Box offers extended flight endurance, covering larger areas in a single mission. With its compact and rugged design, the EGV-90 box ensures exceptional portability, enabling easy transportation of the Tern VTOL-in-a-Box to any location, from remote terrains to urban environments.

Experience the future of UAS operations as Easy Aerial goes above and beyond with the Tern!

U-space sandbox to be built in Tartu

The Estonian Transport Administration, with funding from the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency, has launched a project to develop a concept for a sandbox for automated aviation systems that will be built in Tartu.

“It’s important for the Estonian Transport Administration to ensure that all interested parties have access to modern and versatile infrastructure for testing and validating any necessary solutions for the development of various innovative technologies,” said Üllar Salumäe, Director of Aviation at the Estonian Transport Administration.

The tender conducted by Estonian Business and Innovation Agency was awarded to the international company ANRA Technologies and the contract was signed on 21 April 2023.

“This is a cooperation project aiming to procure an innovative solution in need of further development, as there were no ready-made solutions on the market. For the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency, this is not only an opportunity to contribute to the development of breakthrough technologies, but also the next step in the advancement of activities to support innovation sourcing. We decided to carry out the procurement ourselves instead of awarding a grant, and the result of the procurement will be handed over to the Estonian Transport Administration,” explained innovation expert Terje Kaelep from the innovation department of the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency.

“ANRA is thrilled to have been selected for this opportunity to advance the Estonia drone ecosystem by deploying our U-space and Common Information service solutions,” stated Founder and CEO, Amit Ganjoo. “This sandbox is just the beginning of other activities that will help unlock the vast potential for the region and greater Europe by providing a location to conduct validation and verification activities for U-space stakeholders.”

The establishment of a sandbox will open up opportunities for the wide-scale development and deployment of unmanned aviation technologies. This will prepare the way for innovative aviation concepts and safety standards, and facilitate the safe testing of automated aviation systems.

The long-term aim is to create an innovation environment for unmanned aviation that bridges all key stakeholders, including airspace users, industrial companies and research institutions. This approach is an opportunity to create a sustainable development environment for current and future technologies related to the introduction of unmanned aircraft systems and related solutions.

The results of the research undertaken by ANRA Technologies should be finalised by the end of September and will serve as the basis for the establishment of a sandbox in Tartu, where future U-space service providers and parties developing unmanned aviation technologies will be able to test and validate their services and solutions.

Tartu Science Park, the Estonian Aviation Academy and Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS are the parties involved in the work.

The cooperation project ‘Expertise for the development of an unmanned aviation (U-space) sandbox’ will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.

UK Government funded R&D “dead ends” are bleeding taxpayers’ money

“The formation of the Government’s new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, provides a much-needed opportunity to correct the UK’s fundamentally flawed innovation funding strategy, and to create a programme which drives more commercially-focused Research and Development (R&D)… with the potential to deliver billions in growth across our nation’s vital industries,” states Robert Garbett, one of the world’s foremost experts on drone technology, in a statement released today.

The UK Government has committed to expand R&D spending to £20 billion a year by 2024, reaching 2.4% of GDP by 2027.  However, Garbett argues “the innovation funding strategy implemented by the recently-abolished Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was on the road to nowhere, especially for drones”. The essential problem, he argues, is that “there is no overarching strategy in place for drones, with R&D funding taking place without a clear vision of what is needed to achieve what will deliver the most growth: commercialisation”.

Robert Garbett, Founder of Drone Major Group explains, “Many of the ‘Innovation funding’ organisations that distribute much of this funding are private companies whose entire business is based on bidding for and expending Government money.  This has resulted in the emergence of a self-perpetuating industry focused almost entirely on handing out taxpayers’ money, without a proper strategy for how to bring important emerging technology to market.”

Garbett argues that “the fund-granting process usually omits any analysis of what the market needs. As a result, the UK spends and often wastes huge sums of taxpayers’ money developing R&D solutions leading to dead ends.” This is the reason, Garbett contends, that “despite the UK Government spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer pounds on drone testing and trialling, meaningful commercialisation is moving at a snail’s pace.”

Robert Garbett added: “There is no doubt that, used correctly, (R&D) funding is extremely important to the development and deployment of an emerging technology.  However, in the absence of a mature commercial drone industry with specific operational needs, there is a danger that technologies or capabilities are researched to satisfy ‘wishful thinking’ rather than realistic long-term advances for the UK economy.  To put it all into perspective, recent research[1] has shown that over the last 18 years almost £300million of taxpayers’ money has been spent by Innovate UK, all on companies which have since dissolved…

“Furthermore, this wasteful, often aimless approach can be seen with the huge amounts of funding provided to explore the ‘over-hyped’ delivery of small packages by small un-manned air systems, which is a capability that is clearly not commercially viable, safe or socially acceptable.  In essence, we are spending lots of taxpayers’ money on things which are not, and may never be, required, and – in many cases – have been tried many times before.

Commenting on the proposed solution, Robert Garbett states, “What’s needed – and what I hope we will see from the newly-created Department for Science, Innovation & Technology – is a ‘commercialisation’ programme with a clear focus: to help attract investment targeted at delivering commercially-viable services to industry.

“This would not only require far less public funding, but it would also help highlight specific research and development requirements.  Research and development initiatives could then be funded to optimise benefit to the UK economy, resulting in tangible socio-economic benefits including investment growth and job creation, creating a genuine return on investment both for the taxpayer and the UK economy, to the order of billions.”

[1] Recent research by intellectual property services company, GovGrant, showed that over the last 18 years, £293million of Innovate UK funding (5% of the total) was committed to 2,270 companies that have since dissolved; the research also shows that £1.05 billion invested in 2,630 companies identified as being at high risk of dissolution (18% of Innovate UK’s funding to commercial entities) and £206 million (6% of the total funding for commercial entities) remains unpaid once the project is complete:  [Published July 2022]

Drone Major Group

Founded in 2017, Drone Major Group is the world’s first global drone consultancy dedicated to advising companies and organisations on the possibilities of what can be achieved through the use of autonomous and remotely controlled systems (drones) in their operations across all environments (surface, underwater, air and space); where to acquire the technology, and how to integrate it safely and effectively into their operations.

Robert Garbett  

Robert Garbett is one of the world’s foremost experts in drone technology and Founder and Chief Executive of Drone Major Group Limited, the world’s leading global Drone and Counter Drone consultancy.

Formerly Head of Airworthiness for the Defence Logistics Organisation, he founded Drone Major Group Limited in 2017. Drone Major Group Limited advises on the adoption and application of drone technology across every environment (surface, underwater, air and space), developing creative and bespoke strategies for companies and organisations around the world, helping them to realise the productivity and efficiency gains drones that can provide.

Robert Garbett is the only authority to be advising on Standards in Britain, Europe and worldwide, and he is a leading authority and advocate for the global drone industry and its potential to transform economies. He is Chairman of the British Standards Institution (BSI) committee on drone and counter drone standards (ACE20), as well as Head of the UK delegation of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Committee responsible for developing the global drone safety standards for the operation of unmanned air systems (UAS).

Fleet Management Platform AirData in Japanese: Partnerships and Translations for Global Reach

AirData in JapaneseAirData and Blue innovation Partner for Japanese Localization of Air Data Platform

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Last week, AirData UAV and Blue innovation Co. announced the formation of a partnership to create a Japanese-language version of AirData’s globally deployed fleet management platform. This new development provides Japanese pilots and fleet operators with a localized and fully translated interface for AirData, alongside features adapted for Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) regulations. This project sets the stage for future translations of the AirData platform.

“Blue innovation has been a great partner in this launch of AirData in Japan. Both of our organizations share a passion for promoting the growth of safe and successful drone use.” said AirData CEO Eran Steiner. “Releasing the Japanese AirData platform helps pilots in Japan improve flight operations, risk management, and flight data tracking. Our improved translation infrastructure allows the introduction of additional languages to new markets, with the goal of accelerating drone adoption worldwide in a safe and compliant manner.”

AirData in JapaneseAirData is utilized by more than 270,000 customers around the world for purposes of mission planning, drone and pilot management, and regulatory compliance. Meanwhile, Blue innovation is a trailblazing leader in Japan’s burgeoning unmanned vehicles industry. The companies have collaborated to provide a translated, Japanese-market edition of the AirData platform, made possible through an integration with JUIDA‘s Member Management System, developed on the foundation of Blue innovation’s Blue Earth Platform. The companies also implemented new features suited to Japan’s legal regulations from governing bodies like the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB).

“Blue innovation greatly values our relationship with AirData,” said Blue innovation CEO Takayuki Kumada. “They are an industry leader in drone data management and compliance, and they share our passion for advancing the unmanned aircraft industry. We believe that we can work together to make it easier for JUIDA members to run their drone operations and create a positive relationship with regulatory authorities.”

A front runner in the use of drones for commercial purposes, Blue innovation is the developer of the Blue Earth Platform (BEP), made to integrate varying autonomous devices like robots, unmanned vehicles, and smart sensors. The company has a longstanding relationship with JUIDA, with the two organizations sharing the goal of furthering the future of unmanned aerial vehicles in Japan, and having collaborated on the development of educational packages and commercial solutions.

Read more:

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Pixhawk Releases Latest Open Standards: Helping Manufacturers Get New Drones On the Market, Faster

Pixhawk v6 offers a robust, feature rich set of standards designed to support innovation through interoperability – and help manufacturers get new aircraft to market.

The Dronecode Foundation (DF) is the organization behind the Pixhawk FMU (Flight Management Units) Open Standards, with contributions and participation from the Pixhawk Special Interest Group, open to all members of the Dronecode Foundation.

What is Pixhawk?

Pixhawk isn’t a particular product; it is a set of open standards endorsed by major semiconductor manufacturers, software companies, and drone engineering companies. These standards cover requirements for many aspects of hardware and electronics design in drones. The Pixhawk Special Interest Group is in charge of developing the latest standards through recurring public meetings hosted by the Dronecode Foundation.

Auterion SkynodeDronecode estimates that there are more than a million Pixhawk-based devices in the field right now, as the Open Standards are implemented by manufacturers, many of which are DF members, such as Auterion, ARK Electronics, Holybro, ModalAI, CUAV, 96Boards, and NXP Semiconductor.

“The beauty of open standards, in particular, is that the community has settled on a consistent way hardware and software integrates together so that components from different companies can consistently work together,” says Dronecode.  “This interoperability through collaboration builds everyone up and drives the innovation we see in drones and uncrewed vehicles.”

Open source gives new manufacturers access to mature and proven tools and feature sets, and a growing ecosystem of hardware options.  By using these standards, manufacturers can focus more resources on their innovative features and use cases – and add to the knowledge base, supporting new developments in the industry.

Now, the Pixhawk v6 set of open standards is available – with new features including ethernet and more processing power.  Alex Klimaj, Founder of ARKElectronics and one of the hardware manufacturers utilizing the Pixhawk v6 standards, explains that the new features mean that users building their own drones can run a lot more sensors – things like distance sensors, GPS, telemetry streams – opening up new potential for projects and use cases.

Most importantly, Klimaj says, is the continued development of the open source goal: interoperability.  “The drone industry is a lot like the early computer industry,” he says.  “We’re really just moving beyond the stage of everyone building their own system.  But with open source standards, we’re working towards the idea that developers can purchase over the counter components from different vendors and put them together, knowing that they’ll work together.  That really fosters innovation – and enables aircraft manufacturers to get to market faster.”

Right now, four companies are manufacturing hardware utilizing the Pixhawk 6 standards:

In addition, says Dronecode: “…some companies are creating new baseboards with companion computers, such as Raspberry Pis, and NVidia Jetson’s that run Linux, allowing you to use an API instead of modifying the PX4 Flightcontroller code. This increases the availability of options and showcases how innovation can build on top of open-source technology.”

FMUv6X & FMUv6C—6th Generation Pixhawks

Now, the 6th generation of Pixhawk FMU’s is available in two versions:

  • FMUv6X: the high-end version made for performance and reliability
  • FMUv6C: made for the cost-conscious end of the market. Reliable and cost-effective

Every version of Pixhawk ships with the latest supported version of the PX4 Flight Controller by default.

Manufacturers can utilize Pixhawk either by building using the Open Standards, or by partnering with a verified Pixhawk manufacturer. (These include: Auterion; ARKElectronics; Holybro; and, CUAV, all of whom help work to maintain the standards.)  The best way to learn more about Pixhawk and participate is by joining Dronecode.

Pixhawk v6 Features

The FMUv6X generation brings the proven features from FMUv5X to a hardened form factor. It includes:

  • High performance STM32H753 Processor
  • Modular flight controller: separated IMU, FMU, and Base system.
  • Ethernet interface for high-speed mission computer integration
  • Three redundancy domains: Completely isolated sensor domains with separate buses and separate power supplies.
  • Redundant sensors on separate buses, allowing continuous operation while losing a complete redundancy domain.
    • Bosch BMI088 (TBC) (vibration isolated)
    • TDK Invensense ICM-42688-P (TBC) (vibration isolated)
    • TDK Invensense ICM-20649 (TBC)
    • Bosch BMM150 compass
    • Bosch BMP388 pressure sensor
    • GPS external mag + baro #1
    • GPS external mag + baro #2
    • High accuracy barbed baro
    • Calibration EEPROM for baseboard sensors
    • On-IMU calibration EEPROM memory for high-accuracy sensors
  • Automated sensor calibration eliminating varying signals and temperature
  • Operating temperature -40 to +85°C
  • FRAM memory for configuration data (SPI2)
  • Extensive power monitoring
    • Two smart batteries on SMBus or more on UAVCAN
    • 5V rail monitoring
    • 3V rail monitoring for CPU
    • 3V rail monitoring for each sensor domain
  • External sensor bus (SPI5)
  • Redundant power supply: The autopilot can be powered from up to three power sources and every sensor set is powered by an independent LDO with independent power control
  • Battery-backed real time clock for running security applications without GPS coverage
  • Support for external NFC on I2C that provides an additional GPIO line along with  the 5V to supply for the external NFC reader.

FMUv6C Features:

  • Cost effective SM32H743 Processor
  • Low-profile form factor with cost-conscious all-in-one design
  • Newly designed vibration isolation system
  • Temperature-controlled IMUs
  • Sensors available:
    • IO Processor: STM32F103
    • TDK InvenSense ICM-42688-P Accel/Gyro
    • Bosch BMI055
    • Isentek IST8310 Magnetometor
    • TE Connectivity MS5611 Barometer

Delta Pixhawk 6X & 6C

The standard is now available for everyone to download:

About the Dronecode Foundation

The Dronecode Foundation (DF) hosts open-source and open-standard projects and their communities, forming an ecosystem of critical components to the Drone Industry. DF is a vendor-neutral foundation for open drone projects and is part of the Linux Foundation. We work with developers, end-users, and adopting vendors worldwide. DF provides a neutral space for collaboration in the development of open standards between engineers and organizations members of the drone community, nurturing an open ecosystem providing open alternatives of hardware and software components key to the development of Uncrewed Vehicles.

About the Pixhawk

The Pixhawk project has provided readily available open standards for drones and open hardware for more than a decade. The Pixhawk SIG was formed to tackle the lack of specifications and guidelines for drone systems development and is supported by Dronecode Foundation members who support Open Standards. Pixhawk is a registered trademark of the Dronecode Foundation.

Healthcare innovator, Spright, joins the GEC in announcing Health@GEC

Spright, a medical aviation company, is leveraging their expertise in aviation and culture of innovation to bring drone-based, life-saving solutions to healthcare.  

As a Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) Healthcare Innovator, Spright has the opportunity to bring real solutions to healthcare partners. More than a drone technology company, Spright is an end-to-end service partner that develops and executes the right drone program that fits each unique business objectives. Spright is a division of Air Methods – the preferred partner for US hospitals and one of the largest community-based providers of air medical services, with nearly 40 years of air medical experience. 

There are gaps in access and care in healthcare, and Spright offers partners quantifiable results in terms of speed and efficiency, and to solve the day-to-day challenges of their unique business.  

Children’s Health IrelandSt James’s Hospital and its Academic Health Science Campus have announced a formal collaboration with the Guinness Enterprise Centre on Monday, December 5th. This collaboration centres on innovation in the health system, entrepreneurship & innovation training and clinical collaboration to foster optimal patient outcomes. Sprights President, Joseph Resnik, and Director of Strategic Programs, Steve Flynn, were speakers on the event panel as a client in the [email protected] cluster. 

(Pictured from left to right): Joseph Resnik, President of Spright, Steve Flynn, Director of Strategic Programs for Spright, and Colm McGarvey, CEO & Co-Founder of Selio Medical, were speakers on the [email protected] launch event panel.

More information about Spright 

Spright offers streamlined and sustainable solutions to overcome the everyday challenges of inefficient ground operations. With the use of drones, Spright can perform medical delivery services for hospitals and labs that would normally be reliant on ground delivery and transportation. Moving urgent supplies or blood samples could take hours or even days for a courier, but just minutes for a drone. Air Methods, Spright’s parent company, is the leading air medical service in the US, delivering lifesaving care to more than 100,000 people every year.  

Spright was founded to help solve some of the toughest challenges facing communities across the globe. They are a global leader in fully autonomous, bidirectional, and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) end-to-end solutions. They promote healthcare access through end-to-end drone delivery solutions that minimize the day-to-day strategic supply challenges facing healthcare organizations. 

AFWERX: How the Air Force and DoD are Supporting Innovation in the Drone Industry – and Vice Versa

The AUVSI NE UAS and AAM Summit, held at the Northeastern University Innovation Campus, took place last week with an impressive lineup.

Continue reading below, or listen:

Among the speakers offering a rare opportunity for an open discussion was Lt. Col. Thomas F. Meagher, Division Chief, AFWERX Prime, Department of the Air Force.  AFWERX is one of the military agencies most actively supporting and investing in new unmanned technology companies, helping startups reach commercial viability and scale through investment, testing, and other services.

AFWERX was started as an adjunct to the Small Business Investment Research (SBIR) program for tech transfer. The goal is clear: to invest in emerging technologies to expand warfighting capabilities.  Along the way, AFWERX is investing in technologies that are rapidly entering the commercial space and framing the development of the unmanned industry.  From the industry perspective, AFWERX is providing much needed investment and support for domestic emerging technologies.  For the military, AFWERX is making the connection between technology startups and US government customers – and working to expand the  startup mentality of creative problem solving within the service.

“We’ve been a startup within the DoD,” says Lt. Col. Thomas F. Meagher.  “We’re looking at how can we get involved with emerging technologies early, to establish that US industrial base.  And, we’re also looking at innovation culture and how we bring a different mindset to what we do.”

Supporting Innovation in the Drone Industry

AFWERX invests in emerging technologies to expand US warfighting capabilities.   Officially, “AFWERX accelerates agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming innovative technology developers with Airman and Guardian talent.”  In practical terms, the multiple divisions of AFWERX are supporting an entire ecosystem of drone technology, working with companies that may have one specific capability the military needs in their offering, and helping them to develop, test, and scale their companies to operational success and commercial viability.

The Air Force has very well defined operational imperatives, the priorities they’ve established for developing warfighting capabilities.  Number 4 is Tactical Air Dominance, and the Air Force recognizes that integrated unmanned systems are a critical component of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) strategy.  Most of the Operational Imperatives touch on the drone industry ecosystem: AI and Machine learning, space capabilities, command and control, communications, cyber capabilities, augmented and virtual reality.

Taking Lessons from Innovative Startups

AFWERX has gone beyond just supporting industry, taking some of the lessons learned from an innovative startup mindset and bringing them into the Air Force.  The AFWERX Spark program connects Airmen and Guardians to startups for collaboration, so that they can exchange information about real world scenarios and testing opportunities.

Spark Cells are a decentralized network of bases empowered to execute on locally generated ideas and projects.  “Colliders” are events sponsored to bring entrepreneurs, warfighters, and experts together to discuss current challenges.  Maker Spaces, Innovation Cells, and Challenge projects all provide opportunities for Airmen and Guardians to collaborate with startups and share a mindset of creative development.

Read more about AFWERX:

Biogroup and RigiTech obtain BVLOS authorisations from French Civil Aviation
Biogroup and RigiTech obtain BVLOS authorisations from French Civil Aviation

In a breakthrough for logistics and healthcare innovation, Swiss-based RigiTech and France’s largest laboratory group Biogroup, have obtained flight authorisations to begin regular Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) flights between Biogroup’s laboratories in Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu. 

Representing a major milestone for both partners, this route is the first approved recurrent drone delivery route to take place within controlled airspace in France, and one of the firsts in Europe. “Drone regulations in Europe are constantly evolving to increase flexibility for drone operations. But because of its novelty and differences from traditional aviation, the whole industry has yet much to learn. I’m very proud to have participated in this process. These authorisations are helping the whole industry to push the limits of what can be done, without compromising on safety,” says Alejandro Del Estal, Head of Operations at RigiTech.

A display of incredibly successful inter-agency collaboration, this project is possible thanks to the participation and continuous communication with the Direction Générale de L’Aviation Civile (DGAC), Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA), the local teams and control towers at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, the Heliport of the Centre Hospitalier Pierre Oudot (Bourgoin-Jallieu), and Frontonas airbase, Clearance, as well as indispensable feedback from the Prefecture of Isère and support from the local Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu municipalities.

This first route will connect laboratories located 17.6 km apart in only 15 minutes. An immediate benefit for patients at Biogroup facilities will be the reduction in delivery time by 50%, as this route usually takes 30 minutes by car. This way, biological samples can be transported from local clinics around the area directly to the main laboratory for processing and analysis, enabling a faster diagnosis and faster access to the proper treatment. 

RigiTech’s Eiger drone is designed specifically to ensure cold-chain transportation of blood and biological samples, as well as other medical products including vaccines and medicine. Its large payload bay allows for efficient, long-distance flights, making the most of this sustainable delivery solution. 

As Biogroup joins the RigiTech board of directors, the newly released authorisations represent a significant first step in RigiTech’s goal to develop Europe’s largest inter-laboratory drone delivery network, encompassing multiple routes that will connect some of the over 900 Biogroup clinics and laboratories in France, Spain and throughout Europe.