While a number of aerial mobility companies are focusing on recalibration of their business plans to support weathering challenging financial times, some have opted to pursue a relatively under-publicized avenue for revenue generation: defense contracts.
When the United States Air Force announced their Agility Prime Initiative months ago, the thought of an innovation driver for the aerial mobility industry with the potential for real financial backing and an attitude of the USAF towards promotion of aerial mobility technologies that met their standards was one of the more technologically progressive moves that the military has publicized. Oftentimes such initiatives are relegated to private spheres of conversation and dealmaking, understandably for security purposes.
Doing away with the term “eVTOL” and instead opting for the more progressive and imaginative “orb” classification of this future generation of vehicles, Agility Prime has proved a spark amongst an otherwise moderate, quiet, and dedicated pace of progress within the aerial mobility industry.
While there were many key takeaways from AP, one of the more enduring and reinvigorating was the entire approach to solving the problem of hosting a conference that discusses the future of transportation and mobility, during a global pandemic that drove meaningful conversations that advanced the industry. The conference in and of itself was a reflection of the character and mentality required to make the unreal, real.
The structure of Agility Prime features three key Area of Interest (AOI) categories: air race to certification, 1-2 passenger ORBs, and cargo ORBs. These three categories reflect the triad of requirements that the USAF are interested in fulfilling by review of Request for Prototype Proposals (RPPs) as the third phase in their review processes – the first two phases being Solution Briefs and Company Engagement, respectively. Through the process of providing Solution Briefs to the USAF, companies will be analyzed for appropriateness of the Solutions. Those companies with appropriate Solutions move forward with Engagements with the USAF, with the final stage requiring a formal RPP.
Why it’s important: Credit is due to the Agility Prime team for being flexible and adapting when change was needed – their conference was hosted completely virtually, and as such afforded attendees the opportunity to engage regardless of their location or ability to travel safely. This adaptable format is likely the structure that many conferences will take on in the coming months to ensure that connections and information continue to flow as needed, but in a slightly different manner.