Moonware Revolutionizes Air Travel with Uber Elevate to Automate Airports and Skyports

Nov. 20, 2020

Moonware has announced its launch as an independent company after a successful year-long collaboration with Uber Elevate.

Moonware is developing advanced software and hardware products that solve decades-old inefficiencies in the aviation industry. The ambitious startup founded by Javier Vidal and Saunon Malekshahi is transforming mobility in all aviation-related industries.

At the core of all their products is a cloud-based AI-powered software that uses machine learning and sensor fusion to integrate real-time location data from Moonware’s hardware and third-party vehicles into a single autonomous environment for optimal cloud-routing and airfield efficiency management. 

The startup also designs, develops and operates autonomous and electric vehicles to move aircraft around airfields. The company's core software product allows it to capitalize on the service provided, leveraging the high flight volume of airfields today. They are backed by a team that combines years of experience building frontier tech across aerospace, robotics and automotive, hailing from industry giants such as Waymo, Uber, Google, Amazon, Otto Trucks, Mercedes-Benz, Corvette-GM and NASA. 

Moonware’s solution was conceived by the surging need for efficient ground operations in today’s increasingly congested and saturated global airspace. The startup’s vehicles will fully automate ground operations through modern lidar and self-driving technology, effectively reducing operating costs by more than 50%. The vehicles also highly reduce the need for engine use during taxiing and provide the following benefits: 

  • Reduce delays and congestion, enabling greater throughput and faster turnaround times
  • Reduce ramp operator workload, increasing safety and lowering operating costs by 50%+
  • Reduce ground handling-related accidents through perfect repeatability
  • Eliminate aircraft engine use for taxiing ops, saving fuel and mitigating acoustic footprints

The company's vehicles are capable of navigating autonomously between pre-determined waypoints across an airfield (e.g. gates, taxiways or runways) that are provided by Air Traffic Control (ATC). Path updates are set by Moonware's cloud-based traffic management network that pulls real-time vehicle position and state data, which is then used to dynamically update the specified route in order to tow a new asset, avoid a potential hazard, or recharge its batteries. 

Additionally, Moonware’s vehicles feature a novel and patented mechanism that leverages the weight of the aircraft’s front nose gear to generate the necessary torque for tugging operations. This also allows for the vehicles to accommodate different landing gear configurations and minimizes landing gear structural fatigue when compared to the other clamping or pin-latch mechanisms. 

Over-the-air (OTA) updates enable frequent optimization of autonomous airport ground services built on their proprietary algorithms. Moonware's cloud-based fleet management network efficiently streamlines autonomous vehicle ground handling operations for a determined airfield use case, integrating with the existing databases and cloud infrastructures of service providers. 

The operational domain of airfields features limited edge cases and provides favorable constraints to implement robotics and data-driven solutions that automate ground traffic. Airfields are ideal environments to implement autonomous vehicle solutions, given that aircraft ground operations require strict protocols with clearly defined movements for vehicles and aircraft alike. From an autonomy standpoint, this is complemented by clearly marked pathways and taxiways that simplify vehicle perception and localization. 

Moonware is attracting the interest of numerous investors while expanding its business model and will be deploying its product throughout aviation markets such as business aviation, commercial aviation and urban air mobility, with the global vision of leading airfield ground handling services.