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VERTIQ awarded AFWERX Phase 1 contract

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Vertiq is excited to announce that the company has received an AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 contract. AFWERX is a technology acceleration directorate within the U.S. Air Force and its SBIR program enables small businesses to explore their technological potential by providing incentives for the commercialization of novel technologies. The contract also provides funding to identify and engage with Air Force customers.

The proposed research funded by this contract is Vertiq’s Underactuated Propulsion System, which combines Vertiq’s patent-pending, hinged propeller with its motor modules and pulsing firmware, allowing a single motor and propeller to vector thrust or generate torques around multiple axes. An underactuated vehicle will experience longer flight time and enhanced manoeuvrability, and it will also be smaller and lighter, making it easier to transport. The technology will significantly improve sUAS Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) use cases and can act as an attritable sensor in hostile environments.

Vertiq then plans to scale up the technology to benefit autonomous heavy-lift eVTOLS, primarily for cargo transportation.

Winning an AFWERX SBIR Phase I contract opens new doors for Vertiq to partner not only with the Air Force, but the entire Federal Government with the Sole Source privilege that accompanies the award. By increasing access to federal agencies, this opportunity will accelerate Vertiq’s mission to push the drone industry forward by perfecting the components that make vehicles move.

So, what comes next? To apply for a SBIR Phase II contract, Vertiq must find an Air Force customer interested in the Underactuated Propulsion System and have them sign a customer memorandum, signifying their intention to work with our company. As such, Vertiq is conducting customer discovery within the U.S. Air Force to find customers that are in need of superior UAS performance and are ready to engage in a research and development effort.


AFWERX is a community of Air Force innovators who strive to connect Airmen to solutions across the air force: whether that be funding, collaborating with industry, or simply receiving guidance on a project. The organization was established in 2017 by the Secretary of the Air Force, reporting to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and comprises active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air Force Civilian Service, and contractor personnel. The group serves as a catalyst for agile Air Force engagement across industry, academia and non-traditional contributors to create transformative opportunities and foster an Air Force culture of innovation. AFWERX’s goal is to solve problems and enhance the effectiveness of the Air Force by enabling thoughtful, deliberate, ground-up innovation across the Air Force.

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