Harmony Aeronautics, a company started by members of the Texas A&M University Department of Aerospace Engineering, has recently won a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract from the Air Force’s Agility Prime program to further develop and commercialize their quiet rotor technology for vertical flight capable Urban Air Mobility aircraft. The contract is worth $150,000 and enables the company to seek up to $2-3 million in total funding over the next three years.
Harmony Aeronautics was co-founded by Dr. Moble Benedict and his graduate students, David Coleman, Farid Saemi, Atanu Halder, Hunter Denton, Carl Runco and Bochan Lee at the Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory, as well as two external collaborators. Benedict first started this team to compete in Boeing’s GoFly Prize in spring 2018. This global design challenge sought to encourage development of a “personal flying device” that could quietly fly a single person for at least 30 minutes. The Aggie team’s design was one of ten winners in the contest’s “design” stage, one of five winners in the contest’s “build” stage and the sole team to demonstrate quiet flight in the contest’s “fly-off” stage.
The Air Force kicked off its Agility Prime campaign to fund, support and test novel electric vertical flight technologies soon after the team competed in the GoFly contest. The team successfully submitted an STTR proposal to Agility Prime with help from the Office of Commercialization and Entrepreneurship at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). The contract provides $150,000 and 6 months to further research the feasibility of the proposed idea. Next, Harmony Aeronautics can apply for $750,000 and 15 months to demonstrate a prototype. After this, the startup can work with the Air Force and private partners to further field-test a product and develop a formal production line.
“The TEES Commercialization & Entrepreneurship team is fully committed to working with Harmony Aeronautics as it makes progress towards the next stages of commercialization,” said Dr. Saurabh Biswas, TEES executive director for commercialization and entrepreneurship. “Harmony is a TEES Commercialization & Entrepreneurship portfolio company, and its successful outcome in Phase I provides a great foundation to build the next generation of products to serve both defense and civilian markets with their quiet rotor technology platform.”