NASA signed agreements with 17 aviation companies to support its Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Grand Challenge technology demonstrations on Tuesday. Each company provided a proposal in one of three categories: developmental flight testing, developmental airspace simulation and vehicle provider information exchange. The new agreements will focus on developmental testing in advance of the first Grand Challenge, which is planned for 2022. Early testing will be aimed at verifying flight test scenarios, data collection and assessing the readiness of NASA’s test infrastructure.
“We consider this work as a risk reduction step toward Grand Challenge 1,” said NASA Grand Challenge lead Starr Ginn. “It is designed to allow U.S. developed aircraft and airspace management service providers to essentially try out their systems with real-world operations in simulated environments that we also will be flight testing to gain experience.”
According to NASA, the goal for the Grand Challenge is to “test the capabilities and readiness of vehicles and systems” such as air taxi services and package delivery in densely populated metropolitan areas. It is also aimed at assisting with the development of operator requirements, best practices and regulations for UAM operations. Companies participating include Bell Textron, Boeing, Uber, Joby Aviation, AiRXOS, OneSky Systems and ARINC.