Boston Engineering gets SBIR grant from US Air Force to build drone propulsion systems

A US Air Force "Reaper" drone takes off at Creech Air Force base in June 2014.
A US Air Force "Reaper" drone takes off at Creech Air Force base in June 2014.

Boston Engineering has won a $150,000 contract from the US Air Force to develop motor and sensor systems for drones, the company said Friday.

This is the first grant for the 20-year-old Waltham technology company from the Air Force’s Small Business Innovation and Research/Small Business Technology Transfer program.

The goal of the project is to develop a platform with complementary hardware and software tools that will make it easier for the USAF to develop propulsion systems for their drones. Whether the systems would power large aircrafts typically associated with military operations or smaller, shorter-range systems will become clearer “as the project progresses,” according to Alex Wallace, marketing and communications executive at Boston Engineering.

“Without having much knowledge of motor control [a person] can program the propulsion system to meet what they need,” said Guy Fichera, director of industrial and commercial projects for Boston Engineering.

Boston Engineering also builds autonomous ocean vehicles and last year tested a robotic fish called the GhostSwimmer that was funded by the US Navy.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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