Joby acquires Xwing autonomy technology

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Joby has acquired the autonomy division of Xwing, a US autonomous aviation systems startup that has been test flying autonomous aircraft since 2020. 

The deal forms a key piece of Joby’s plans for future fully autonomous air taxi operations. It will also help piloted flying in the near-term and potentially accelerate contract deliverables with the US Department of Defense (DoD). 

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO, said: “The aircraft we are certifying will have a fully-qualified pilot on board, but we recognize that a future generation of autonomous aircraft will play an important part in unlocking our vision of making clean and affordable aerial mobility as accessible as possible.

Founded in 2016, Xwing has been flying autonomous aircraft for the past four years using its in-house Superpilot software. The system enables uncrewed operations, supervised from the ground and completed 250 fully autonomous flights and more than 500 auto-landings to date. 

Xwing became the first company to receive an official project designation for the certification of a large unmanned aerial system (UAS) from the FAA when it did so in April 2023. It was also first to receive an Air Force Military Flight Release in 2024.

“The exceptionally talented Xwing team has not only made unparalleled progress on the development and certification of vision systems, sensor fusion and decision-making autonomous technologies, but they’ve also successfully demonstrated the real-life application of their technology, flying hundreds of fully autonomous flights in the national airspace,” added Bevirt.

The deal pairs with the 2021 acquisition of Germany-based Inras, a company developing lightweight radar sensor technology.

Maxime Gariel, co-founder, president and chief technical officer, Xwing, said: “Xwing’s goal of connecting communities with clean and affordable autonomous flight aligns closely with Joby’s long-term vision. I am incredibly proud of each member of the Xwing team and everything this talented group has achieved to date. For the past 7 years, our team has broken barriers to advance aviation autonomy. Now, as we join forces with the leading electric air-taxi developer, I can’t imagine a better home for the Xwing team to realise our shared vision.”

Xwing’s team will now be integrated into Joby where it will focus primarily on the autonomy roadmap for Joby’s aircraft. It will also work to partner more with the DoD on technology development.

In early 2024, the Xwing’s Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (pictured above) participated in the Air Force’s Agile Flag 24-1 Joint Force exercise, during which it completed daily flights, covering around 2,800 miles and landing at eight public and military airports, demonstrating the ability to integrate autonomous aircraft into the national airspace system.

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