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Boeing to partner with, invest in Near Earth Autonomy on next gen aircraft |

Boeing to partner with, invest in Near Earth Autonomy on next gen aircraft

| Thursday, October 19, 2017 9:03 a.m
Riccardo Arata -
A rendering of an Near Earth Autonomy-powered autonomous aerial vehicle identifying a landing zone. (Photo from Near Earth Autonomy)

Pittsburgh’s Near Earth Autonomy and aerospace giant Boeing will team up to work on a new generation of autonomous aircraft.

Boeing’s partnership with Near Earth Autonomy will include a significant investment from the Chicago-based company’s HorizonX Ventures and research and development support, said Sanjiv Singh, CEO of Near Earth Autonomy .

“It enables us to get to a product, to have a channel to work with people,” Singh said. “What they want to do is enable our technology to become an industry standard.”

Near Earth Autonomy makes laser and sensor systems for self-flying aircraft such as drones and helicopters.

In August, Airbus, a top competitor of Boeing, tapped Near Earth Autonomy to provide hardware for Vahana , the self-flying car the company is working on in Silicon Valley.

Singh said the Boeing deal won’t affect his company’s work with Airbus. The deal doesn’t limit who Near Earth Autonomy can work with or what it can do, Singh said.

“Boeing’s partnership with Near Earth Autonomy will accelerate the adoption of its solution as the key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight. Looking at our own capabilities, we see potential across commercial and defense applications as Boeing shapes future mobility,” Boeing HorizonX Vice President Steve Nordlund said in a statement.

The Near Earth Autonomy investment is the first into autonomous systems made by HorizonX since it started in April. HorizonX did invest in C360 Technologies , a 360 video, augmented reality, virtual reality company in Wexford.

Neither Near Earth Autonomy nor Boeing disclosed how large of an investment HorizonX made. Singh said it is a “significant investment” in both in terms of dollars and R&D. The investment amounts to something close to a Series A round of financing, typically a company’s first major round of funding. The investment is the first taken by Near Earth Autonomy.

Singh said the 50-person company is looking to move out of its office in The Design Center in Bloomfield into a larger space, make a few new hires and continue to work on a line of products Near Earth Autonomy hopes to release in the near future.

Boeing and Near Earth Autonomy have worked together in the past. Near Earth Autonomy bolted its laser scanners and sensors onto a Boeing helicopter for a project for the Navy on autonomous aerial cargo systems.

The two companies are currently working with the Army to redesign its surveillance drone.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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