Successful Testing and Airdrops with Aero Systems West

Photo of robots and drone.
Aero Systems West’s HLM Hexacopter modified to carry Squishy Robotics’ stationary robots (l to r): 22-inch (HazMat platform with 0.9-lb payload), 30-inch (2.5-lb payload), 38-inch (5-lb payload), and 47-inch (7.5-lb payload).
Squishy Robotics is building some BIG robots—some are 47-inches in diameter and can carry payloads more than 7 times the size of our 22-inch sensor robots that are being used by first responders for persistent HazMat monitoring during emergencies. These large robots are the still-in-progress results of research and development work our company is currently performing as part of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant awarded by the U.S. Army in 2019.
Larger robots need larger vehicles to airdrop them and their payload cargos. Squishy Robotics had been performing some airdrop tests from fixed-wing airplanes over the Sonoran Desert in Arizona last year as part of our Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). As the pace of prototyping our larger robots increased, we were eager to find testing opportunities that could support our rapid iterative design and development efforts.

Enter Aero Systems West (ASW), a five-year-old company that began as a systems integrator for aircraft and avionics and is now a white-label drone manufacturer. ASW is also conveniently headquartered in neighboring Santa Clara County, where Squishy Robotics COO Deniz Dogruer and Lead Mechatronics Engineer Douglas Hutchings drove one morning in late June 2020 to see if ASW’s larger drones (with their tall landing gear) could help validate our designs.

“We spent several hours with the Aero Systems West leadership and engineering team that day,” said Hutchings, who is the Principal Investigator (PI) for this SBIR Phase I grant.  “It was successful and fun morning. Several of ASW’s team members are Air Force veterans and their military experience helped inform their ideas and suggestions during our day of drop testing. I think that both sides learned a lot.”

“With a wealth of experience in developing and testing small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS)—and an impressing product line that can carry payloads of up to 84 pounds—we are looking forward to working closely with Aero Systems West as we develop larger versions of our rapidly-deployable sensor robots,” Dogruer added. For more see the news article and video made by Aero Systems West.