Windhover Labs Launches Drone Flight Computer
March 14, 2021
Windhover Labs, which develops open flight software and hardware for drones, has announced the upcoming availability of its first hardware product, a low-cost modular flight computer for commercial drones and small satellites. The new line of flight computers was created with hardware and software developed in the U.S., and will be available as a low-cost consumer model as well as mission-critical professional models that facilitate integration into the national air space.
The product is built on a NASA-developed flight software framework that has been certified for human use. It has been in use on space vehicles since 2009, and follows commercial aircraft and government safety and quality standards, Windhover Labs said. The company’s software and hardware is designed for flying drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) with a composable and portable design that allows flight software to be easily ported to multiple platforms. The company said it plans to certify commercial models under FAA rules to allow autonomous flight within the National Air Space (NAS).
“My team and I are pleased to reach the finished product and marry the drone industry with NASA’s 50-plus years of space flight experience,” said Matthew Benson, co-founder and CEO at Windhover Labs. “We took a different approach than most startups by investing everything into our product first, rather than seeking funds with only an idea. I’m proud of my team’s agility and discipline over this journey and we’re excited to embark on our next product.”
In 2018, the company announced an open drone software ecosystem, and a successful test flight marked a significant milestone of the company’s Phase II NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The company’s code is open with a strict testing and quality control process, which follows privacy measures and maintains the highest quality and reliability.
“Windhover Labs is building upon the safety and reliability of NASA’s core Flight System for the drone universe,” said Michael Lowry of the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames. “NASA’s cFS is a proven and expandable software foundation for space missions, which can also provide an expandable software solution for unmanned aircraft systems.”
The company said it has been profitable since 2017, but is also open to investment to bridge the gap to production and to develop further products. Public releases will be staged over the next two years, and early integrations with drone manufacturers are now being conducted.