Echodyne scores $20 mln

… has secured $20 million in financing. The investors included Bill Gates, Madrona Ventures, NEA, Vulcan Capital, Lux Capital and Vanedge Capital.

Echodyne, a maker of high-performance radars for government and commercial markets, has secured $20 million in financing. The investors included Bill Gates, Madrona Ventures, NEA, Vulcan Capital, Lux Capital and Vanedge Capital.

Source: Press Release

US Army conducted unique experiment involving armed drone and artificial intelligence

The U.S. Army researchers made a historic first with its experiment over the Mojave Desert involving an unmanned aircraft, smart sensors and artificial …

The U.S. Army researchers made a historic first with its experiment over the Mojave Desert involving an unmanned aircraft, smart sensors and artificial intelligence.

The Army successfully tested its ability to redirect munitions from the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in flight on Aug. 28, according to the Army News Service.

The experiment, that was conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, tested a capability developed by his CFT called A3I, standing for Architecture, Automation, Autonomy and Interfaces.

According to the Army News Service, in the unique experiment, an operator in the back of an MH-47 Chinook helicopter used an iPad to control an MQ-1C Grey Eagle UAS over China Lake. He fired a GBU-69 small glide munition from the Grey Eagle and it was the first time that type of UAS fired that kind of missile.

The A3I system of interconnected sensors was developed over a nine-month period by the Future Vertical Lift CFT in conjunction with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command with input from academia and industry.

The experiment has demonstrated “leap-ahead” technology in lethality and reach, Rugen said.

“We really worked hard on our unmanned systems, our architecture, our automation and our interfaces up at China Lake against a real threat,” he said.

The overall experiment was designed to penetrate an urban environment pairing manned and unmanned aircraft, smart munitions, sensors and automated processing capabilities.

The experiment was able to demonstrate a “very dynamic and agile tasking of effects,” Rugen said. “It culminated with a very open-system architecture on the Grey Eagle that was demonstrated very effectively.”

Rugen said it is part of how the CFT is working to “weld the air-ground team tighter and tighter into a pretty solid punch for any potential enemy.”

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Tags:USA

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Volocopter raises $55 million to commercialize flying taxis

… manned and unmanned flights. Last year, Volocopter demonstrated its first passenger flight with former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in the driving seat.

Volocopter, a German company that’s developing electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, announced it has raised €50 million ($55 million) in a series C round of funding led by Chinese automotive company Zhejiang Geely, which owns such well-known car brands as Volvo and Lotus.

Founded in 2011, Volocopter is one of several urban aviation startups to emerge in recent times, including Lilium, which has raised more than $100 million for a similar proposition. Boeing also recently launched a test for its “flying car” prototype, and Airbus completed its first autonomous air taxi test last year. Uber, for its part, is also investing big in air taxi research.

As part of its ambitions to populate the skies with flying cabs, Volocopter recently announced a prototype air taxi landing facility ahead of trials in Singapore. It’s designed to showcase Volocopter’s vision of a future in which personal urban air transport is a reality. These landing hubs will also serve as essential infrastructure should Volocopter’s machines get off the ground.

Volo-port: Concept shot

Above: Volo-port: Concept rendering

In its eight years in business, the company has trialed and iterated across three generations of aircraft, which have received various licenses for both manned and unmanned flights. Last year, Volocopter demonstrated its first passenger flight with former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in the driving seat.

Above: Volocopter’s first passenger flight in an aircraft hanger (former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is inside).

Volocopter had previously raised around $34 million from big-name investors that include Daimler and Intel, and with its latest cash injection it plans to work toward commercial certification for its recently announced two-seater VoloCity air taxi through the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA). The company said it hopes to launch commercially by 2022.

“Urban mobility needs to evolve in the next few years to meet rising demand,” Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said. “With our Volocopter air taxis, we are adding a whole new level of mobility in the skies. This funding round is allowing us to take great strides toward bringing urban air mobility to life whilst being respectful of our shareholder’s money.”

This is actually the round’s first close, and the company said it hopes to add more funds to the pot later this year, from both “strategic and financial investors,” according to a statement.

Geely’s involvement in the round is notable, as its investment represents part of a broader partnership that will lead to a joint air mobility venture in China.

“Geely is transitioning from being an automotive manufacturer to a mobility technology group, investing in and developing a wide range of next-generation technologies,” added Geely chair Li Shufu. “Our latest cooperation with Daimler, building on our partnership in smart and premium ride-hailing services, as well as our joint venture with Volocopter, underlines our confidence in Volocopter air taxis as the next ambitious step in our wider expansion in both electrification and new mobility services.”

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Haydale receives funding to develop composite gas tanks for space propulsion

Haydale Graphene Industris Plc., (Ammanford, U.K.), a global advanced materials group, has been awarded funding from the European Space …
graphene enhanced gas tank for space propulsion

Source | Haydale

Haydale Graphene Industris Plc., (Ammanford, U.K.), a global advanced materials group, has been awarded funding from the European Space Agency (ESA, Paris, France) to develop composite gas tanks for spacecraft propulsion systems.

The company says its composite storage system will be a low-cost solution for the growing market for small spacecraft constellations — large groups of low-orbit satellites launched at one time, intended to spread global communication without the need for ground-based transmitters. Haydale says that its components meet the need in the existing space propulsion supply chain for low-cost, reliable components that also offer rapid delivery schedules and support ongoing reduction of orbital debris. Haydale’s system can be offered in a range of configurations for various requirements.

The ESA award follows the successful outcome of an ESA General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) project in 2018 performed with ESA and the UK Space Agency, which was titled “Assessments to Prepare and De-Risk Technology Developments — Tank using Advanced Composites.”

With the new funding, Haydale plans to develop findings from the GSTP project, performing comprehensive tests to determine the best material and process for developing composite gas tanks. After selection of both material and process, Haydale says it will formulate and model a largely de-risked tank, followed by manufacture of development models for full testing. This will result in the qualification for specific spacecraft propulsion systems.

Haydale says its tanks will offer leak-free storage and delivery on demand of all propellant and pressurized gases stored within, under specified environmental conditions and expected transient load cases; high-pressure storage capabilities, with required levels of safety and reliability; and reliable connections to the feed system and mechanical mounting.

Haydale is working on this project in collaboration with ISP International Space Propulsion Ltd. (Wiltshire, U.K.) through the ESA ARTES Competitiveness & Growth, in conjunction with UK Space Agency. The company says that Airbus DS Tank Product Group is also involved in the project. The company has identified satellite technology producers for developing the specification and tank design for eventual manufacture and deployment.

“This funding will allow Haydale to develop existing knowledge in the space industry and we look forward to developing the technology alongside our partners,” says Keith Broadbent, CEO of Haydale.

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Stock Market News: Boeing Faces New Delays; Bitcoin ETF Coming

Meanwhile, on the cryptocurrency front, a long-awaited announcement concerning a possible exchange-traded fund for investing in bitcoin could open …

Tuesday morning brought a holiday hangover to the stock market, with significant losses to start the shortened week on Wall Street. Concerns about new tariffs that took effect over the weekend continue to hurt sentiment, and fears about past seasonal trends that have included substantial sell-offs in the months of September and October aren’t helping investors feel more confident. As of 10:30 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 382 points to 26,021. The S&P 500(SNPINDEX:^GSPC) fell 29 points to 2,898, and the Nasdaq Composite(NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) declined 84 points to 7,878.

Hurting the Dow this morning was Boeing (NYSE:BA), which saw its stock lose ground amid more bad news for the beleaguered aircraft manufacturer. Meanwhile, on the cryptocurrency front, a long-awaited announcement concerning a possible exchange-traded fund for investing in bitcoin could open up the market to a new group of institutional investors — but not necessarily to individuals.

More 737 MAX delays for Boeing

Shares of Boeing were down 3% after the aerospace giant reportedly ran into more resistance concerning the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft lines. Boeing has been working with federal regulators to get approval to get the planes flying again, but according to The Wall Street Journal, those talks aren’t going well. Many fear that the tension could lead to an extended delay in the 737 MAX’s return to service at least into early 2020.

One red Boeing aircraft on airport ramp with several blue aircraft in background.

Image source: Boeing.

Already, Boeing’s customers have had to deal with the complications stemming from the grounding. American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL) and United Continental Holdings (NASDAQ:UAL) recently canceled their planned 737 MAX flights through early to mid-December, taking the key Thanksgiving travel season off the table but still leaving open the hope that the planes might be available for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Boeing also faces the prospect of seeing customers start to shuffle orders. Rival Airbus has seen its business pick up as a result of Boeing’s woes, and that trend could continue if the 737 MAX stays grounded indefinitely. It takes a long time for order shuffling to result in actual delivery changes, but investors have counted on Boeing being able to get the 737 MAX back in the air quickly to regain customer confidence. If that doesn’t happen, then further declines in the stock could lie ahead.

Creating a bitcoin ETF

Bitcoin prices were up about 3% as cryptocurrency investors responded to news that an ETF granting access to the bitcoin market will open soon. Yet for those individuals who had hoped to take advantage, there’ll be a longer wait.

ETF providers VanEck Securities and SolidX Management announced that they would make shares of their VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust available to a select set of investors on Thursday. However, the companies expect to open the ETF using a rule from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that allows for certain offerings to avoid the extensive regulatory requirements that have prevented bitcoin ETFs from coming onto the market before now.

Under that rule, VanEck and SolidX will do a private placement of bitcoin ETF shares to qualified institutional buyers. That will allow investment without going through the SEC registration process. Unfortunately, it also means that ordinary investors won’t have access to shares of VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust.

Bitcoin’s rise in 2019 has been impressive, and it’s gotten a lot more investors interested in cryptocurrencies again. Yet at least for now, the ease of investing in bitcoin through an ETF still won’t be available to individual investors — even if some hope that VanEck and SolidX’s move could push things in the right direction in the future.