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Published on July 30th, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart


Boeing & The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Explore Lidar For Electric Flight

July 30th, 2018 by  

There isn’t a week that goes by without an electric aviation news release. Air giants Boeing & AJAX are making sure they don’t miss the headlines as they work together.

Boeing Acquiring The Aurora Flight Sciences Boeing & AJAX LIDAR

Laying Down The Foundation Of Tomorrow’s Electric Air Mobility

Electric vehicles (EVs) usually come with a certain amount of autonomous driving features. The conversation centers around how many GPS, lidar, radar, and other automated systems are needed in the car and what the best cost/feature tradeoff is, but few details emerge on synchronizing and coordinating all of this data.Boeing & AJAX LIDAR Boeing HorizonX Cuberg Batteries

While understanding how carmakers plan on synchronizing millions of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the road tomorrow is difficult at best, the future of electric air mobility is already in place. “Autopilot” originated in the air. AV technology has been available for a few decades there. But how will this traffic be synchronized? The Boeing and JAXA venture are looking into whether it will be centralized, decentralized, or a hybrid approach, much like rail in Sweden.

The Boeing & JAXA venture will flight test long-range lidar technology next year to help commercial airplanes better detect and avoid disturbances.

Boeing, AJAX, EV, AV, And The Future Of Electric Air Mobility

If lidar is important for wheeled EVs, it is even more important for aircraft and their electric future. Lidar has the potential to accurately gauge wind disturbances as far out as 17.5 kilometers (over 10 miles) in front of pilots. This gives pilots ample time to correct their course and avoid wind shear and clear air turbulence. Essentially, most air problems give no visual cues about what lies behind, especially in cloudy areas.


According to Naveed Hussain, Boeing Research & Technology vice president, Aeromechanics Technology: “Boeing is very pleased with the collaborative relationship we have had with JAXA. We look forward to demonstrating the benefits of lidar technology, which offers significant opportunities for aircraft safety and performance.”

Doug Christensen, ecoDemonstrator program manager, said: “Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator flight-test programs accelerate innovation that enhances the safety and efficiency of commercial flight. We’re eager to continue working with JAXA so that we can both learn more about lidar technology.”

Finally, Fumikazu Itoh, director general, JAXA Aeronautical Technology Directorate, continued with the following: “We are very pleased to take part in Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program. The onboard clear-air turbulence detection system will be tested in the program next year with the SafeAvio R&D project. Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program provides us with valuable opportunity to test our system’s ability on large commercial aircraft, which will help accelerate practical implementation of our system in a real environment.”

We certainly are packing a lot of technology to enable the future of air travel. Lidar, GPS, radar, and most of that technology means a weight penalty every time we board a plane.

Making efficient routes and coordinating paths is where the real action is taking place, saving emissions. We hope the Boeing and the Japan Aerospace Research Agency research saves fuel and emissions.



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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

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