Mobility, technology companies to test ‘cutting edge’ products at Ford airport

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Five companies will trial aviation products ranging from autonomous service vehicles to a service to improve baggage delivery as part of a program to foster innovation and entrepreneurship at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

The companies share a $145,500 federal grant provided by Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ford Airport, Southwest Airlines and Stantec GenerationV, according to a Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) news release.

The effort is part of a program at the airport’s Ford Launchpad for innovative technology and entrepreneurship, also known as FLITE.

“We are excited to partner with this next round of companies through FLITE to offer them the opportunity to test their products in a real airport environment,” Tory Richardson, President and CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority said in a press release.

“With thousands of passengers traveling through our airport every day, we can introduce start-up companies to a global market and provide them with a vibrant workplace where they can scale their air travel technology solutions to further enhance the guest experience. “

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This is at least the second group of companies testing their products at the airport as part of the FLITE program. In January, MEDC announced three companies – UK-based Aurrigo; Japan based WHILL; and Sunflower Labs, based in Switzerland – each received $50,000 to test an autonomous wheelchair, a digital mapping program and an outdoor security drone.

Here’s a look at the five companies that will be testing products at the airport this time through December:

  • Aircraft data fusion: Based in Apple Valley, Minnesota, the company will “use web-based cloud solutions to provide real-time passenger forecasts.” According to a press release, the company was founded in 2001 by “aviation industry veterans who leverage their decades of experience to solve challenges related to information overload and the timely utilization of critical data.”
  • Data speed: The Detroit-area company will test an autonomous service vehicle. The company says its focus is on research and development of autonomous vehicles and that the vehicle it will be testing at the airport will be fully automated but also interactive in case emergencies or other incidents arise. “This innovative approach offers significantly increased performance and cost savings not seen before in the commercial operations industry,” according to a press release from MEDC.
  • Eve: The Syracuse, New York-based company will upgrade its drone infrastructure to “revolutionize baggage delivery,” according to a press release. The company’s services include “edge cloud capability, quantum key encryption, on-time delivery, e-commerce, and a logistics marketplace where businesses can meet drone operators to move goods and more.”
  • Renu Robotics: Based in San Antonio, Texas, the company will test autonomous lawn mowers. The company says its vehicles “continuously monitor, control, and send on-site updates while allowing access to designated mobile screens to track performance.”
  • Spotter ID: The Grand Rapids-based company will develop sensor technology to help travelers identify available parking spaces. The company says its products “have the potential to transform the way drivers park through its innovative smartphone application, on-site sensors and real-time data.” The idea is to help motorists find a parking space faster.
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