Aurora Flight Sciences says it has reached an agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to transition its X-Plane programme technology to commercial applications, including expanding its research into commercial eVTOL systems.

Developed for DARPA’s Vertical Takeoff and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) programme, the XV-24 sub-scale vehicle demonstrator (SVD) delivered a number of key aviation milestones:

  • Distributed electric propulsion ducted fans
  • An innovative synchronous electric-drive system
  • Both tilt-wing- and tilt-canard-based propulsion for vertical takeoff and landing
  • High efficiency in both hover and high-speed forward flight

These milestones advanced the concept of distributed electric propulsion applied to Aurora’s eVTOL on-demand aircraft, which is being developed in partnership with Uber Elevate, Aurora says.

Aurora Founder and CEO, John Langford, said: “When DARPA launched the idea of distributed electric propulsion in 2013, it was a novel concept. Today, it is widely accepted as the catalyst to a sophisticated electric air transportation ecosystem.

“Expanding on DARPA’s vision, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to take this groundbreaking capability to completely new markets.”

Investment acceleration

“Growing private capital investment in electric aircraft has quickly accelerated the timeline of point-to-point VTOL travel within the commercial space,” added Tom Clancy, Aurora Chief Technology Officer. “DARPA has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, and the success of this ambitious project has the potential to redefine the world we live in.”

Enjoyed this post? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.