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Sun, Mar 10, 2024

Army Testing Out Autonomous Cessna Caravan, Too

xWing Finds Footing Under Army Program Evaluating Uncrewed Cargo Craft

xWing has been advanced under the US Army's xTech SBIR Autonomy program, allowing them to show off their autonomous airlift and logistics capability using a modified C-208 Caravan.

It gives a strong sense of deja vú to see yet another autonomous Caravan making waves in the industry, but it makes sense why: The C-208's legendary reliability, rugged landing gear, high payload, and affordable single-engine running costs make it a very solid prospect for drone conversion at this stage of the industry. xWing is no stranger to the scene, either, already a part of the USAF AFWERKS Autonomy Prime program. They even got approval to fly autonomous cargo missions under the AGILE FLAG 24-1 exercise, where the team flew over 2,800 automated flight miles. In AF24, the team was able to deliver essential cargo to 8 separate military and civil airports across California.

The Army's program manager overseeing the SBIR Autonomy project, Nicole Fox, said that the "solutions developed via the competition and through follow-on SBIR contracts will support Soldier safety and efficiency in contested environments".

"Xwing is at the forefront of uncrewed aviation, focusing near-term on transforming operations in scenarios typically described by the three Ds of robotics: dull, dirty, and dangerous. This innovation is crucial for reducing dependency on manned aircraft confronted with these threats," explained Kevin Antcliff, Xwing’s Head of Product. "By shifting to uncrewed aircraft, we aim to enhance safety, efficiency, and operational flexibility across various mission types."



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