Pierce Aerospace wins US Air Force funding for remote drone ID research

Pierce Aerospace has announced it was recently awarded a U.S. Air Force SBIR (small business innovation research grant) for advancing the work of Flight Portal ID — our UAS Remote Identification system.

According to founder Aaron Pierce: “The award of this SBIR allows us to expand our work with customers in the DOD while simultaneously enhancing our ability to serve the commercial market. Ultimately identity, Remote ID as it is known in the industry, is the great enabler for drones. Our aim is that Flight Portal ID enables the diverse range of unmanned aircraft activities ranging from drone delivery to automated flight and even urban air taxis.

“The DOD and the federal government are actively pushing Remote ID from multiple agencies and departments, as is the industry. On one end of the spectrum, the government and public have genuine security concerns that are only addressed through accurate and reliable identification. At the other end of the spectrum, commercial users need Remote ID to operationally advance lucrative business models, like delivery, that require automated flight beyond visual line of sight. Regardless of camp, there are plenty of stakeholders asking “who, what, where, when, and how” when looking at a drone in the sky. This SBIR gives us greater opportunity to directly serve the needs of all those stakeholders and concerns — including those of the general public.

“SBIRs are designed in multiple phases, and active participation from government and commercial customers through these phases allows us to accelerate even faster, quickly delivering Flight Portal ID into the hands of defense and commercial users. The particular SBIR model that we are working with is a new type of SBIR designed for faster acceleration of new technologies within both the USAF and commercial sectors. This concepts behind this SBIR emerged from a new outfit called AFWERX.

“Last year Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson established AFWERX as a new fast-moving, innovation-focused organization that reports directly to USAF Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson. While working with AFWERX, we’ve observed that they understand that innovation is one of the greatest commodities that exists in the United States and they are actively breaking barriers to enable startups and academics to more efficiently work with the Air Force.

“Traditionally, SBIRs have been fantastic opportunities to engage with the government on innovative research, but the process associated with them is laborious, and the format does not fit the methods or pace of tech startups. We see AFWERX changing this trend, and the most recent batch of USAF SBIRs included six topics that AFWERX and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) teamed on together to address advanced USAF needs. The topic that Pierce Aerospace was awarded was titled, “Open Call for Innovative Defense-Related Dual-Purpose Technologies.”

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