A San Luis Obispo firm is part of a two-company team working under a $2.4 million contract from the Air Force for a high-tech alert system that will keep unmanned aircraft from flying into one another or into manned aircraft.
AeroMech Engineering Inc. is readying for test flights with contract partner Barron Associates of Charlottesville, Va. Together, they are developing collision-avoidance technology for the Air Force’s Multi-Vehicle Unmanned Aircraft Systems Sense and Avoid program.
According to a report at www.militaryaerospace.com, Barron specializes in creating technologies to measure, model, predict and control complex systems. AeroMech designs unmanned aerial vehicles ranging from 4-pound, battery-powered aircraft to 150-pound, jet-powered models.
“The key to our approach is testing, evaluating and demonstrating the developed technologies with actual UAV formations — not just simulations,” said Jay McConville, AeroMech president and CEO.
Ultimately, the AeroMech-Barron product could be used to help unmanned aircraft and commercial aircraft operate safely in congested areas at major airports around the world.
AeroMech was purchased a year ago by Chandler/May Inc. of Huntsville, Ala. The Alabama firm specializes in unmanned vehicles and command-and-control computing systems.
Cal Poly graduates Thomas Akers and Norm Timbs founded AeroMech in 1999 with less than $1,000 of startup cash.
Akers remains involved as chairman of Aero-Mech’s board of directors.
In 2008 — the most reccent figures available — AeroMech employed 85 people, claimed $10 million in revenue and occupied 45,000 square feet of space on Ricardo Court.
— Tad Weber