Boeing to invest in Indian American Sanjeev Singh’s startup Near Earth Autonomy

Singh leads the technical and business strategy for the company.

Dr. Sanjiv Singh explains Near Earth Autonomy’s aerial robotics technology to U.S. Congressman Doyle. (Courtesy of the official Twitter handle of Near Earth Autonomy)

World’s largest aerospace company Boeing will invest in Indian American Sanjiv Singh’s startup Near Earth Autonomy that develops a portfolio of technologies that enable safe and reliable autonomous flight.

Boeing will invest in Near Earth Autonomy through its venture fund arm HorizonX.  This is the first investment by HorizonX in a company specializing in autonomous technology. In addition to the investment, Boeing and Near Earth Autonomy also announced a partnership to explore future products and applications for emerging markets such as urban mobility.

“This partnership will accelerate technology solutions that we feel will be key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight,” said Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX vice president. “We are excited to begin this partnership with a company with such a depth of experience in autonomy so we can leverage the scale of Boeing to innovate for our customers.”

Though Boeing is yet to announce the size of the investment, Bloomberg reported that the deal would be in $10 million equity which would value Near Earth Autonomy between $40 million and $50 million.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Near Earth,” said Sanjiv Singh, CEO, Near Earth Autonomy. “The Boeing HorizonX investment will accelerate the development of robust products and enable access to a broader portfolio of applications for aerial autonomy.”

Near Earth Autonomy, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute is a leader in software and sensor technology that enables aircraft ranging from sub-meter to full scale to inspect, map and survey terrain and infrastructure, as well as transport cargo autonomously.

Near Earth’s founders have over three decades of experience developing autonomous systems for ground and aerial vehicles. Two of their groundbreaking achievements include the world’s first full-size autonomous helicopter flights in partnership with the US Army in 2010 and ongoing work with the Office of Naval Research developing an autonomous aerial cargo delivery platform for the US Marines.

By leveraging the power of the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing HorizonX invests in new business ventures to unlock the next generation of game-changing ideas, products, and markets. The Boeing HorizonX Ventures portfolio includes investments in wearable enabled technologies, augmented reality systems, hybrid electric propulsion, and artificial intelligence.

Singh leads the technical and business strategy for the company, says its website. He brings 25 years of experience in autonomous ground and air vehicles operating in extreme environments. A key area of his expertise is in perception and planning for air and ground vehicles. In addition, he specializes in the coordination of teams of (human and robotic) agents performing complex tasks.

Singh obtained his Ph.D. in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University in 1995 and has since been on the faculty at the Robotics Institute. He is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Field Robotics. Near Earth is his third commercial venture.

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