Jump Aero and Caltech Win U.S. Air Force Contract as Part of Agility Prime

April 7, 2021

Jump Aero Incorporated announces the award of a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research contract from the U.S. Air Force as part of Agility Prime, a program designed to accelerate the commercial market for dual-use advanced air mobility vehicles.

Jump Aero has partnered with Caltech to develop an "electronic parachute" – an adaptive flight controller pre-tuned in simulation for various failure scenarios with a machine-learned neural network that will enable the pilot of the JA1 eVTOL aircraft to initiate rapid recalibration of the flight controller in midair in the event of damage. This adaptive/ML control technology has the potential to improve the probability of a safe outcome if the aircraft is physically damaged in flight without significantly increasing the training burden on the pilot.

Historically, adaptive, complex, and non-deterministic flight control systems have been impractical to certify due to the need to prove a level of safety in all scenarios that is commensurate with accepted standards. The need for deterministic proof of safety of arbitrarily complex systems has prevented these complex control systems from being commercially viable. Recently, the FAA certified the first autonomous landing function for use in emergency situations, thereby demonstrating a realistic path to bring such technologies to market -- as emergency recovery systems. Jump Aero has partnered with Caltech to explore the potential of leveraging this pathway to bring an adaptive/ML recovery function to market on the JA1 eVTOL – as an "electronic parachute".

"Jump Aero is thrilled to have been selected for this contract. We look forward to working with Professor Soon-Jo Chung's world-class autonomous systems controls laboratory at Caltech to mature this exciting new technology in the hope that a future electronic parachute will make our aircraft even more damage-tolerant," said Carl Dietrich, Founder & President of Jump Aero Incorporated.

Jump Aero is developing the JA1 eVTOL aircraft to help first responders get to the scene of an emergency as fast as possible. The capabilities of the JA1 aircraft have significant potential defense utility. The research conducted as part of this AFWERX STTR contract has the potential to improve the operational safety of future Jump Aero products and pave the way for safety enhancing flight control systems across the broad spectrum of Advanced Air Mobility.