Flying cars may be futuristic, but Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is launching a new “Agility Prime” initiative to assist companies in testing prototypes and technology for flying vehicles, the Dayton Daily News reported.
The project represents a shift in how Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Will Roper wants the service to approach projects and research like a start-up, according to Loren Thompson, senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, according to the report.
“The Air Force technology model now is based on thinking like it’s a tech company and investing in promising innovations,” Thompson said.
Agility Prime is in its early stages and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is reaching firms to contract with DOD, offering companies an opportunity to test their flying vehicles in military air space without Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation, according to the report.
“I’ve been challenging our acquisition community to think about where our defense market has value,” Roper said at a September Air Force conference. “There’s an area we’re really excited to explore with commercial industry and that’s in the self-flying cars, technology boom, that we think will happen.”
The AFRL effort comes a couple of years after NASA launched its Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge to help develop vehicles for flying people point-to-point in a city, according to NASA.
NASA plans to conduct testing later this year and will start field demonstrations in 2022, while AFRL’s challenge runs through 2021, the Daily News report said.
Air Force photo by Chad Trujillo