It can be spotted soaring over Ohio anywhere from 500 feet above the ground all the way up to 30,000 feet. NASA’s $4 million aircraft has spent the past several months and is nearing completion of its first round of flights, which will help map out the future of aviation where airplanes, drones, air taxis and more can coexist as part of the NASA Advance Air Mobility Mission.
As NASA’s Casey Bakula points out, the way we look at air travel is about to change. Bakula is part of the team here at NASA Glenn in charge of helping design a highway for the sky. “The companies that are really going after this market, they want to replace your daily commute with your car with a small aircraft,” Bakula, tech lead for NASA’s HMX and AMPS projects, explained. “Operators have very different ideas of how we can use the airspace from how we’re using it today, so it’s really our job to get our feedback and put together that big picture view of how these markets can work together.”
“More than the terrain, the weather here in Cleveland is perfect,” NASA researcher Daniel Raible said. That’s not a phrase you hear often, but that’s the truth from Raible, applauding the chaos that is Cleveland’s weather, which can consist of everyone from rain, cold, snow and wind from the lake.
Raible is also conducting tests with this $4 million research plane, specifically streaming 4k video and figuring out how that can be done to the Moon and back. “What we’ve learned is that simulation is never sufficient,” Raible said. “You had to get out there and build things and break things and iterated upon that. All the computer simulations in the world are a bit too perfect for real-world scenarios. If we’re flying blue skies every single day, then we’re not really stressing the technology. We need to make something that’s robust in all domains.”
“It represents the future of aviation,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “When you’re talking about air taxis, that’s the future. We find this very, very exciting — not only for the direct jobs and indirect jobs it’s going to create, but like Intel, it’s a signal to people that Ohio is looking to the future. This is a big deal for us.”
Soaring to new heights, together.
Be sure to visit the BWU Technology Partnerships Initiative website to learn more about how our NEOFIX program drives economic growth, promotes policy and infrastructure to improve drone safety and efficiency in various industries, and ensures that drone technology is being used responsibly.