Boeing opens new unmanned vehicle lab in Missouri

By Patrick C. Miller | July 07, 2016

Boeing is opening a new research laboratory in St. Charles, Missouri, for collaborative autonomous technology development with academic institutions and research partners, including government agencies and other companies.

The lab will serve as the company's leading location at which researcher will develop and validate systems for autonomous vehicles. Boeing said the 8,100-square-foot Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory (CASL) is dedicated to the development, maturation and validation of autonomous and multi-vehicle collaboration technologies.

"This lab provides us an outstanding environment to experiment and innovate with a variety of autonomous vehicles and the systems and sensors that drive them, from small unmanned aerial vehicles to unmanned undersea vehicles," said Nancy Pendleton, leader of the Boeing Research and Technology Missouri research center.

The CASL is part of the Boeing Research and Technology-Missouri (BR&T-Missouri) research center. The lab is equipped with an 80,000-cubic-foot motion capture system that allows the facility to simultaneously operate multiple unmanned air vehicles (UAV) and unmanned ground vehicles.

An indoor flying test range contains a high-resolution blended projection system for the development and testing of vision-based technologies, such as image processing algorithms or detection of moving objects in scenery. The system can work in concert with the motion capture system and high-fidelity simulations to support live-virtual testing in realistic simulated scenarios.

The facility also includes an enclosed, vented area that enables an around-the-clock reliable test environment and access to Global Positioning System and other signals used for ground testing and static engine runs of small UAVs.

"Autonomy is revolutionizing our world and this lab will be an important part of our mission to deliver solutions across air, land and sea for global customers," said Kory Mathews, vice president of Autonomous Systems, a division of Boeing Military Aircraft also headquartered in St. Louis. 

According to Pendleton, "Collaborative technology is at the forefront of innovation for taking advanced vehicles that already carry out dull, dirty or dangerous work, such as assisting in search and rescue, firefighting and military missions, and making them even more effective to test hardware and software that will make a new generation of autonomous air, sea and land vehicles work together more effectively as a team or unit.” 


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