Santa Barbara-area company awarded $1 million to develop hybrid-electric flight technology for U.S. Army, and two U.S. Air Force contracts to work on flying cars.
GOLETA, California – LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions, a pioneering California startup that produces electric motors for the aerospace industry, has been awarded several U.S. Department of Defense Contracts in its first six months in business.
The fledgling aerospace development company has received a $1 million Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Army to develop technology for hybrid-electric flight. The U.S. Department of Defense also recently awarded LaunchPoint and its partner Georgia Tech two contracts to help develop flying car technology for the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program.
“We applaud the vision of the U.S. Department of Defense in helping fast-track development of this groundbreaking technology,” said Chris Grieco, LaunchPoint’s global vice president of business development and sales.
“Ultimately, it will require a solid investment from the U.S. government to ensure the electric flight industry achieves its full potential through certification,” he continued. “This combined with the very large, global strategic moves now being made by the conventional aerospace firms, automotive companies and well-backed, experienced, private developers leaves no doubt this is a dawn of a major industry.”
In addition to defense contracts, LaunchPoint is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to explore advanced manufacturing techniques for its lightweight aerospace motors. The company has also secured multiple commercial contracts and orders with aerospace and automotive companies.
LaunchPoint is currently shipping two versions of its hybrid-electric propulsion systems – the 6KW hybrid-electric genset for drones and the 40KW gensets for larger drone cargo and future air taxis. These are designed for extended-range flights and expanded mission capabilities. Future products in planning now address the coming, higher-power Urban Air Mobility market applications. These low-altitude passenger-carrying aircraft utilizing hybrid-electric and pure electric flight are widely regarded as the future of aerospace for urban transportation.
The company plans to test its proprietary flight products with drone customers through the first quarter of 2021. Company executives expect a larger volume of sales to follow as demonstrations and testing garner visibility from large customers globally.
“We have more than doubled in size since June and continue to hire key personnel and implement manufacturing upgrades. We are seeing exponential interest in our advanced modeling tools and products for both drones and the future Urban Air Mobility markets” said Rob Reali, LaunchPoint’s CEO.
Reali said the Company is constantly expanding its patent portfolio, providing protection for the firm’s engineering breakthroughs within a growing field of international competitors. As the markets grow, LaunchPoint expects to lock up critical intellectual property in the space, Reali said.