UNMANNED

Boeing's VC arm backs unmanned sensor firm Near Earth Autonomy

Boeing has made another move into the autonomous technology realm as the airplane maker’s venture capital arm will invest in software and sensor maker Near Earth Autonomy.

Pittsburgh-based Near Earth Autonomy is the first autonomy-related investment by Boeing HorizonX Ventures since the latter’s launch in April. Both organizations will also collaborate to explore future products and applications for future markets such as urban mobility, Boeing said Thursday.

This move comes amid several autonomy-related moves Boeing has made recently in an effort to prioritize that market for growth.

Earlier this month, Boeing said it would acquire Manassas, Va.-based unmanned and electric-powered aircraft manufacturer Aurora Flight Sciences. Boeing’s other autonomy investments in the past year have included the purchase of underwater drone maker Liquid Robotics and the pursuit of the Navy’s “Orca” unmanned vehicle competition, for which Boeing is a finalist.

Near Earth Autonomy is a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and focuses on software and sensors that help aircraft carry out inspection, mapping, surveying and cargo transportation missions. The company designs its technologies to work on both sub-meter and full scale air platforms.

Key projects in the company’s recent history include the world’s first full-size autonomous helicopter flight with the Army in 2010 and a current initiative with the Office of Naval Research to build an autonomous aerial cargo delivery platform for the Marine Corps.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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