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CASA Collaborates with NASA, Bell Helicopter, Xwing, and Textron Systems to Help Develop Vertical Take-off and Landing Vehicle

According to two independent websites, Executive Biz and UASWeekly, the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) at UMass Amherst is part of a team including Bell Helicopter, Xwing, and Textron Systems that has just announced a cooperative agreement with NASA to help conduct an unmanned aircraft flight demonstration in 2020. CASA will provide weather avoidance technology for the ambitious project.

“CASA is excited to collaborate with Bell on the integration of low-altitude weather information into UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] operations,” said Apoorva Bajaj, CASA’s innovation manager. “Precise information on location, timing, and severity of thunderstorm activity, wind, and rain will help maximize the time UAS operations can be safely conducted.”

Bell will lead the design, development, production, and systems integration of its autonomous pod transport 70 (APT70), a tail-sitting, electrical, vertical takeoff and landing vehicle. The APT70 can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and has a baseline payload capability of 70 lbs.

ExecutiveBiz, which is dedicated to covering the government contracting sector from the perspective of the executive, says the consortium aims to explore commercial transport requirements across law enforcement and parapublic, medical, and offshore operations through NASA’s Systems Integration and Operationalization program. CASA will develop a weather avoidance system, while Textron Systems will provide a command-and-control technology for integration into Bell’s APT70 vehicle, and Xwing will supply the detect-and-avoid technology. (September 2018)