Pierce Aerospace receives USAF SBIR award for its remote identification system for UAS

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Pierce Aerospace has received a U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research Grant award for its work on Flight Portal ID, a remote identification system for UAS.

According to Pierce Aerospace, Flight Portal ID has received international attention for its “sensible approach” to solving the industry challenges of identifying UAS, including its recognition by the International Civil Aviation Organization last fall.

“There's nothing in the market today that readily allows all drone stakeholders, including the public, to quickly answer the question of 'what is that?' when a drone is overhead,” explains company CEO Aaron Pierce. “We've designed Flight Portal ID for ease of use — knowing that the general public needs to use it. At the same time, identification needs to work with police officers, air traffic control, and other drone operators.”

Flight Portal ID not only answers the questions of who and what is in the air, but it also protects a UAS user’s privacy. The system allows the public to see that a UAS is authorized, but the public won’t know that the UAS is delivering a package to their neighbor down the street.

With UAS use exploding within the commercial field, Pierce Aerospace says Flight Portal ID is an ideal dual-purpose technology for the USAF and its new SBIR program, which is designated to accelerate small innovative tech businesses.

The new accelerated SBIR comes from the work of AFWERX, which was established last year by USAF Secretary Heather Wilson. AFWERX is responsible for outreach to startups and reports directly to USAF Vice Chief Stephen Wilson.

“I think the USAF realizes that tech startups in the U.S. work like small 'Skunk Works' — the innovation division at Lockheed Martin that delivered spy planes and stealth technology to the military,” Pierce says. “Tech startups move quickly and deliver innovations, like Flight Portal ID, that would otherwise take years to develop in traditional contract models with larger companies.”

​Pierce Aerospace says it is actively engaged with entities in the USAF, as well as Unmanned Traffic Management providers, UAS operators, and service providers. The company adds that it is open to working with others in industry and defense.