Skydio and Arris are partnering to accelerate development of next generation UAVs
SAN FRANCISCO—A close collaboration between a U.S. drone manufacturer and a California-based manufacturer of high-performance composite products recently led to the use of a leading-edge carbon fiber manufacturing technology in the production of a redesigned UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) airframe. The drone manufacturer, Skydio, partnered with Arris Composites to replace a 17-part assembly with a single, multi-functional structure, using Arris’s Additive Molding™ technology to produce Skydio’s X2 drone, according to a release from the companies.
The X2 airframe will include a newly designed core structural element manufactured using Additive Molding technology. Additive molding is a high speed, composites manufacturing technology that combines continuous, aligned fibers and electronic components within topology-optimized structures. It is said to provide the strength and stiffness of titanium at a fraction of the weight, enabling the Skydio X2 to increase its range and speed.
“We are excited about the value that our partnership with Arris will bring to our customers,” said Adam Bry, Skydio’s CEO, in the release. “At Skydio, we pursue cutting edge innovation across all facets of drone technology. The unique properties of Arris’s Additive Molding carbon fiber allow us to optimize the strength, weight, and radio signal transparency of the Skydio X2 airframe to deliver a highly reliable solution that meets the needs of demanding enterprise, public safety, and defense use cases.”
The technology enables Skydio to change material composition within regions of a single part. By leveraging 3D-aligned, continuous fiber composite materials for complex shapes, Skydio can optimize its carbon-and-glass-fiber layout to meet functional requirements of individual regions of the airframe.
“The evolution of aerospace design has been punctuated by breakthroughs in manufacturing and materials,” said Ethan Escowitz, founder and CEO of Arris, in the release. “Such a moment has come where manufacturing of optimized structures has converged with composite materials ideals to unlock previously impossible, high-performance aerospace designs. While we’re working with leading aerospace manufacturers to improve aircraft performance, sustainability and costs, Skydio’s culture and market have enabled an unsurpassed pace of innovation that has fast-tracked this transformation to deliver the next generation of aerostructures. It’s simply amazing to see such a revolutionary product broadly available and flying today.”
Skydio X2 pairs Skydio’s autonomy software with a rugged, foldable airframe for easy “pack and go” transportation, enabling up to 35 minutes of flight time. Its use cases include situational awareness, asset inspection, security, and patrol, the company said.
Skydio’s partnership with Arris is said to further validate Skydio’s commitment to innovation, supply chain security, and U.S.-based manufacturing.
Skydio credited the partnership for providing “scalable U.S.-based manufacturing and innovation to bring peak aerospace performance at lower cost.”
The X2 is designed, assembled, and supported in the USA. It is NDAA compliant and has been selected as a trusted UAV solution for the US Department of Defense as part of DIU’s Blue sUAS program.