Ohio State partners with industry on Air Force Agility Prime R&D contracts


Engineering researchers at The Ohio State University are key partners in 14 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contracts awarded to private firms through U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program.

Agility Prime

The Air Force recently launched Agility Prime, a non-traditional program seeking to operationalize “flying cars” for government missions in a way that accelerates the emerging commercial market.  The objective of this STTR funding round is to explore potential commercial technologies being developed in the emerging electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) market to field flying organic resupply buses, or ORBs, for disaster response, humanitarian aid and logistics missions.

The following collaborations received contract funding:

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Mahesh Illindala will work with NEOEx Systems, Inc., on energy and power systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Illindala will provide knowledge on microgrids and networked power systems in support of the proposed liquid hydrogen base operations required to fly long-range UAVs.
  • Ted Allen, associate professor of integrated systems engineering and computer science and engineering, will collaborate with Infinity Labs on enterprise optimization of urban air mobility (UAM) satellite communications hardware and networks.                                        
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Research Assistant Professor Zhenyu Wang, of the Simulation Innovation and Modeling Center (SIMCenter), will partner with Infinity Labs on methods to model the acoustic signature of UAVs in the context of urban environments. This work will enable better route planning to mitigate flight noise impact on inhabitants of these environments. 
  • The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is involved in two STTR contracts. Research Scientist Matilde D’Arpino will partner with Infinity Labs to investigate how the selection of lithium-ion battery chemistry will impact design and expected lifetime of different UAV concepts, and with Electric Power Systems to investigate how different DC power distribution systems may impact UAV safety and reliability. CAR Lead Engineer Prashanth Ramesh and Faculty Emeritus Yann Guezennec are co-investigators.
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Eylem Ekici will collaborate with MTI Systems on development of the analytical framework necessary to develop and certify next-generation 5G communications technologies for use in wide-ranging Air Force operational scenarios. 
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Haskell Fought will work with Battle Sight Technologies and Ohio State spinout DAtAnchor, led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Emre Koksal. They will focus on solutions for quickly and accurately tagging, tracking and locating assets and personnel dropped by air in day or night conditions in contested areas near where peer forces are operating.
  • Ohio State’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) will team up with United Aircraft Technologies to fabricate prototypes of its smart interconnecting clamp technology for monitoring the health integrity of aircraft wiring.
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Wladimiro Villarroel will work with Air Force AFWERX and Ohio State spinout Ghostwave, led by engineering alumnus Dean Zody, on UAV sense and avoid technology.
  • Integrated Systems Engineering Assistant Professor Martijn IJtsma is partnering with Elysian Labs to develop a support tool for rapid mission planning in disaster response scenarios. He will contribute expertise on human-machine teaming and computational simulation of distributed cognitive work systems.
  • Materials Science and Engineering Professor Boyd Panton will team up with Piasecki Aircraft and Ohio State spinout Applied Impulse, Inc., led by Materials Science and Engineering Professor Glenn Daehn. They will design an advanced manufacturing process which integrates shape memory alloys with vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, which will optimize both hover and cruise performance.
  • Materials Science and Engineering Research Scientist Anupam Vivek also will partner with Applied Impulse, Inc., on applying a revolutionary material joining technology to produce lighter and more robust aircraft.
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Xiaorui Wang and Computer Science and Engineering Associate Professor Feng Qin will work with Tangram Flex, Inc., to develop a plan for integration of software assurance tools into an eVTOL/UAM toolkit. 
  • Alper Yilmaz, professor of Civil Environmental and Geodetic Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering, and his spinout company, Ubihere, will develop and test a visual-based position and navigation capability for UAVs. Ubihere is currently working with the Air Force, City of Hilliard, State of Ohio, Lockheed Martin, and others to commercialize this technology.
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