NASA Adds 17 Companies To UAM Grand Challenge


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.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Test item #1: Will the population put up with the added noise
    Test item #2: Ask DHS what they think of autonomous payloads in and over populated ares.

  2. Glad we spent all those Billion$ on “Next Gen”. Obviously, somebody got something out of it.

    Observed a mega multi-lane ‘Round-About’ during a manufacture’s shift change. Hundreds of people leaving and arriving through the Round-About at the same time. They do it everyday. Watching all that traffic was like it was choreographed. The Round-About concept works as long as your focus is on filling the slot at the same speed as the circling traffic.

    Circle the city in a counter-clockwise designated track and enter/depart the circle in the sky at designated locations. Not much different then the basic airport left hand traffic pattern today, but much larger. When entering a busy training airport traffic pattern with a dozen planes doing touch and go’s you enter 45 degree or straight in downwind. Other options: straight in crosswind, base or final. Depart basically the same way. When entering from the center, fly under the traffic pattern leg and climb in to the circling aircraft. Just like an airport, once the traffic becomes too busy flight plans will be requested and accepted. Computer A.I. technology today could be releasing these flight plans.