Black Swift Technologies and Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) have been selected to conduct expedited assessments of soil integrity for landing strips to accommodate C-130 landing operations in unconventional locations.
Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) is the instrument design and manufacturing subsidiary of Weather Stream Inc., a leader in the collection, aggregation, and dissemination of commercial weather and climate data, while Black Swift works in the development of advanced UAVs for environmental monitoring in harsh environments. The pair were selected by AFWERX for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract.
Under the contract, OMS and Black Swift Technologies will prepare and demonstrate the function and performance of uncrewed aerial vehicles and radiometer soil moisture sensing solutions that can scan soil moisture and integrity of an entire potential landing strip in a matter of minutes.
The Department of the Air Force (DAF) has identified soil integrity mapping as being critical to its warfighters because unconventional locations typically have unimproved runways, which are often associated with longer takeoff and landing distance, degraded aircraft handling, and increased safety risks.
Current practice entails manual collection of soil samples taken at multiple test points throughout the target runway area.
The Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) process by accelerating the small business experience through faster proposal to award timelines, changing the pool of potential applicants by expanding opportunities to small business and eliminating bureaucratic overhead by continually implementing process improvement changes in contract execution.
The DAF began offering the Open Topic SBIR/STTR program in 2018, which expanded the range of innovations the DAF funded and now, on October 11, 2023, Orbital Micro Systems and Black Swift Technologies will start their journey to create and provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.
Michael Hurowitz, Chief Executive Officer of Weather Stream, said; “We are humbled and excited to receive the award for this project, which utilizes proven commercial technologies to accelerate the data acquisition, analysis, and reporting processes that the DAF requires to assure runway readiness.
“Many years of development work have led to the demonstration of a new commercial solution for producing high resolution soil moisture maps using our patented sensor and algorithm technologies. Our approach reduces the reliance on costly and time-consuming physical soil sample examinations. This can deliver a more accurate and faster evaluation of soil integrity than previously possible.”