AFWERX and Near Earth Autonomy to Develop Reliability Standards for Autonomous Aerial Transport

The US Air Force’s AFWERX has selected Near Earth Autonomy to collaborate on a reliability standard for autonomous aerial transport as part of the Autonomy Prime program. The partnership highlights Near Earth’s commitment to advancing autonomous aircraft technology. With unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) becoming more widespread, autonomy is increasingly critical in overcoming challenges that crewed aircraft currently manage. Near Earth and AFWERX aim to address open questions about the considerations and process necessary to achieve the reliability required by regulators, insurers, and end-users.

Through their partnership, Near Earth and AFWERX will establish an accreditation process to formalize assurance for autonomous aircraft. The process will consider both the aircraft’s capabilities and the operational environment to create safety cases for typical transport operations. Near Earth will also develop an architecture that enables high-reliability and supports Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA)-compliant interoperability, ensuring that autonomous aircraft can operate safely and efficiently.

Lt. Col. Tom Meagher, AFWERX Prime Programs lead, said, “The upcoming effort with Near Earth Autonomy is incredibly important for informing certification for autonomous capabilities, with significant benefits to both the commercial and government aviation autonomy communities.”

Sanjiv Singh, CEO of Near Earth, stated, “Going forward, we expect that autonomy will be integral to military flight operations, and it will be the way that commercial flight operations will scale. The task is not only to develop autonomy to assure safety and efficiency but to make the case that the autonomy will deal with the edge cases. AFWERX has a deep understanding of both the challenge and opportunity at hand. They are bringing all the necessary pieces together to make the widespread use of uncrewed logistics a reality. We could not ask for a better partner to bring the benefits of autonomous uncrewed logistics to the defense and commercial sectors at scale.”

AFWERX Prime Lead, Lt Col Bryan Ralston, said, “Evaluation of these technologies and moving towards certification is incredibly important for future autonomous operations in the Department of Defense.”

Since 2012, Near Earth has been developing, maturing, and demonstrating autonomous flight systems that enable safe uncrewed aerial vehicle operations. To date, Near Earth has integrated its technology with over 100 aircraft and logged more than 3,000 flight hours on over 6,600 flights.

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