Boeing partners with SparkCognition on UTS project

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Boeing has partnered with AI technology firm SparkCognition to develop an unmanned aircraft traffic management system named Boeing NeXt.

The system will use artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to track unmanned air vehicle flights and allocate traffic corridors and routes in real time. The two companies will also work to create a standardised system for unmanned package delivery and industrial inspections.

Boeing NeXt will also be in charge of the company’s experimental aircraft portfolio, including the recently announced Boeing hypersonic concept and its eVTOL aircraft.

Boeing’s investment company Boeing Horizon X invested in SparkCognition in June 2017, investing $32 million Series B funding round alongside Verizon Ventures. This was the third investment Horizon X made since it was established in April last year.

Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief technology officer said: "We're at a point in history where technological advances and societal trends are converging to demand bold solutions and a different way to travel.

"Boeing has the experience and expertise to safely and efficiently shape this emerging world of travel and transport. Through Boeing NeXt, we intend to build on our legacy of opening up new frontiers to move people and goods with proven technologies.”

In a video on Boeing’s website, Boeing explains how it is investing in AI, hybrid and fully electric propulsion and integrate both autonomous and piloted VTOL aircraft into existing aerospace.

The vice president of Boeing HorizonX Steve Nordlund will be leading the Boeing NeXt programme whilst maintaining his position at Boeing HorizonX.

Mr Nordlund said: "By taking a holistic approach that combines Boeing's strength in technological innovation with new business models and non-traditional partnerships, we are laying the foundation for the future commercial mobility ecosystem.

"We are shaping the physical and connectivity infrastructure to ensure new air vehicles safely operate in the global air space."

SparkCognition has had five different funding rounds since its first in 2013. Lead investors in the company are Verizon Ventures, CME Ventures and the US Department of Energy.

Amir Husain, founder and CEO of SparkCognition said: "Estimated by some analysts at $3 trillion, the urban aerial mobility opportunity will lead to the creation of the largest new market in our lifetimes.

"The world's number one aviation leader partnering with the world's most innovative industrial AI company means that unparalleled experience in safety, innovation, scale, and reliability will be brought to bear to address this monumental opportunity."