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Near Earth Autonomy looks to grow military hardware, software sales

Near Earth Autonomy's system is designed to enable autonomous landing and cargo resupply. (Near Earth Autonomy)

Autonomous flight specialist Near Earth Autonomy is expanding its military portfolio, the company has told Janes , with a particular focus on logistics use cases.

Near Earth Autonomy is a US-based company that provides hardware and software solutions for autonomous flight and landing. It has deepened its work in the defence market in recent years, perhaps most notably through a partnership with Kaman, with which it is delivering the Kargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the US Marine Corps (USMC).

Sanjiv Singh, the company's co-founder and CEO, said Near Earth Autonomy has identified four central use cases associated with logistics. The first, basic scenario is “building the smarts to operate in and out of complex environments over relatively small distances, around 10 mile, carrying around 100 lb of supplies”.

The second case is similar, but for ensuring travel across far longer distances – perhaps 200–300 mile – and then landing precisely. Such use cases could involve the transportation of medicines or blood, for instance. Building such long-endurance, light, autonomous aircraft is the focus of several military programmes, Singh said, such as the Advanced Aircraft Infrastructure-Less Launch and Recovery (ANCILLARY) programme from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which aims to build vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities.

“In that case, we look at working with hybrid VTOL, but this is also a requirement for the future tactical UAS [unmanned aircraft system] world where they will be flying a long distance and want to land precisely, perhaps on a ship or a rooftop.”

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