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Seaflight x Volant Autonomy
NSF-announcement

July 2023

 

Seaflight Technologies Inc. Awarded Competitive Grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation

R&D funding accelerates work on high-lift aerodynamic technology for more efficient electric flight.

LOS ANGELES, CA -- 9th July 2023 -- Seaflight Technologies Inc., a developer of ultra-efficient large drones for logistics, has been awarded a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant for $275,000 to improve the efficiency of electric flight. Once a small business is awarded a Phase I grant, it is eligible to apply for Phase II funding and supplements totaling up to $2 million.

Seaflight’s project will implement a novel form of what’s known as aerodynamic circulation control. This actively changes the airflow over a wing to produce very high lift only when it is needed, for instance to enable a quick, short takeoff. It then helps to reduce aerodynamic drag for the remainder of the flight.

 

Reduced drag means significantly more range and payload will be possible even with today’s battery technology. This addresses one of the main barriers to more widespread adoption of batteries for regional air cargo and passenger flights.  

Founded in 2022, Seaflight has already flown several sub-scale prototype electric wingships – craft that can take off and land on water but fly close to the surface of the sea. The goal is to help bring low-cost, low-emission flown cargo to island and coastal populations that are also among those most affected by climate change caused by fossil fuel emissions.

Seaflight CEO and Principal Investigator on the project, Dr. Graham Doig, said “Seaflight’s mission is to accelerate an electric and equitable future for flight. That means electric flight for meaningful impact today, not ten years from now when batteries are better. The aerodynamic efficiency unlocked by our circulation control is a huge part of making that possible.”

Seaflight’s Lead Aerodynamics Engineer, Dr. Johan Melis, added “Our goal is to basically double the range that an electric aircraft can fly, using clever aerodynamics to do it. The future of flight doesn’t look like today’s planes.”

 

All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, undergo a rigorous merit-based review process.

 

“NSF accelerates the translation of emerging technologies into transformative new products and services,” said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF Assistant Director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. “We take great pride in funding deep-technology startups and small businesses that will shape science and engineering results into meaningful solutions for today and tomorrow.”

 

Seaflight intends on demonstrating its new aerodynamic technologies in flight tests marked for early 2024 and is actively building partnerships to accelerate commercialization.

 

To learn more about Seaflight, visit https://www.seaflight.tech

 

Contact:
media@seaflight.tech

 

About Seaflight Technologies Inc.: Seaflight is a Los Angeles-based company with subsidiaries in the UK and Australia. The company is developing the world’s most efficient battery electric drones to transport several hundred kilograms of cargo over distances that would not be possible with conventional aircraft. Seaflight was founded in 2022 by a team that collectively broke two electric international land speed records and worked on multiple commercial electric vehicle and military aviation platforms. The company is backed by investors including Y Combinator, 7 Percent Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Climate Capital, Asymmetry Ventures, Gaingels, alongside angel investors including tech entrepreneurs Jude Gomila and Guillaume Luccisano, and Matt Bellamy from the band Muse.

 

About the U.S. National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs: America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards more than $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million to support research and development, helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $9.5 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. To learn more about how NSF helps unlock future technologies for national and societal impact, visit: https://beta.nsf.gov/tip/latest.

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