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Mobility and tech companies to test 'cutting edge' products at Ford Airport

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Five companies will test aeronautical products, ranging from autonomous service vehicles to a service designed to improve baggage delivery, at Gerald R. Ford International Airport as part of a program designed to boost the innovation and entrepreneurship.

The companies are sharing a $145,500 state grant designed by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ford Airport, Southwest Airlines and Stantec GenerationV, according to a press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The effort is part of an airport Ford Launchpad program for innovative technologies and entrepreneurship, also known as FLITE.

“We are excited to partner with this next set of companies through FLITE to provide them with the opportunity to test their products in a real-world airport environment,” said Tory Richardson, President and CEO of Gerald R Ford International Airport Authority. A press release.

“With thousands of passengers traveling through our airport every day, we can introduce startups to a global market, providing them with a dynamic workspace to scale their air travel technology solutions to further enhance the customer experience. “

This is at least the second group of companies to test their products at the airport through the FLITE program. In January, the MEDC announced three companies – UK-based Aurrigo; Japan-based WHILL; and Switzerland-based Sunflower Labs were getting $50,000 each to test an autonomous wheelchair, a digital mapping program and an outdoor security drone.

Here’s a look at the five companies that will test products at the airport this time around:

  • Aircraft Data Fusion: The company, based in Apple Valley, Minn., will use “web-based cloud solutions to provide real-time passenger forecasts.” The company was founded in 2001 by “airline industry veterans who use their decades of experience to solve the problems of information overload and the timely use of critical data,” according to A press release.
  • Data speed: The company, based in the Detroit metro, will test an autonomous service vehicle. The company says it is focused on research and development of autonomous vehicles and that the vehicle it will test at the airport is fully automated but also interactive in case of emergencies or other incidents. “This innovative approach delivers dramatically increased performance and cost savings that the business operations industry has yet to experience,” according to a statement from MEDC.
  • EVA: The company, based in Syracuse, New York, will revamp its drone infrastructure to “revolutionize baggage delivery,” according to a press release. The company’s services include “cloud computing capability, quantum key encryption, on-time delivery, e-commerce and a logistics marketplace where companies can meet drone operators to transport goods and more. “.
  • Renu Robotics: The company, based in San Antonio, Texas, will test autonomous lawn mowers. The company says its vehicles “continuously monitor, control and send updates to the field, while allowing access to specific mobile screens to track performance.”
  • Observer ID: The Grand Rapids-based company will develop sensor technology to help travelers identify open parking spaces. The company says its products have “the potential to change the way drivers park through its innovative smartphone app, on-site sensors and real-time data.” The idea is to help drivers find a parking spot faster.

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