The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is turning to a Japanese startup for help in creating maps of the wind that will make it safer for drones and air taxis to take to the skies around the world.
MetroWeather Co. makes compact, low-cost lidar sensors that can be used to detect hazards like wind shear, allowing unmanned aerial vehicles to operate in urban environments, Chief Executive Officer Junichi Furumoto said in an interview. The Kyoto-based company will work with TruWeather Solutions Inc. in the U.S. as part of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research grant program.
Autonomous drones and flying cars, long a science fiction staple, are slowly edging toward reality. The four-rotor machines known as quadcopters are already being used for photography, inspections and mapping. Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. are exploring their use for deliveries, while a number of startups and aerospace incumbents are working on electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles that can carry people.