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  • Writer's pictureStephen Crouch

Blue Horizons Takes "FLITE"

In late Q3, VTI was awarded a Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship (FLITE) grant to demonstrate scalable data collection for aircraft safety applications. The goal of the project, dubbed “Blue Horizons”, is to complement VTI’s synthetic data work with real flight data. We are happy to announce the start of our data campaign with Western Michigan Aviation Academy (WMAA)! Big thanks to FLITE and WMAA for enabling VTI to demonstrate this innovative approach to scalable sourcing of data for AI validation!

The journey to deploy a sensor payload started at KCCR in Concord, CA where our team finalized the integration with the professionals at SkyIMD. Kudos to Michael Estigoy and the rest of the SkyIMD team - their supplemental type certificate (STC) payload solution drastically accelerated our deployment! We then completed aircraft installation on the pod’s ride at KGRR in Grand Rapids, MI: WMAA Cessna 172 tail number N910AA.

Attaching the SkyIMD pod to the strut of the Cessna 172

The final assembly in WMAA’s sparkling clean hangar!

Later that day, WMAA took it up for its first flight of the campaign. Everything worked seamlessly!

Blue Horizons imagery on final approach to KGRR runway 8L.

Flight schools such as WMAA typically emphasize takeoff and landing procedures as new pilots build flight hours. These flight operations and the natural variety of conditions across time of day, weather, nearby airport locations and other aircraft traffic are well-aligned with VTI’s data requirements for the assessment of AI models trained on synthetic data. Together with two high resolution cameras, GPS and ADS-B receivers will provide further situational awareness and opportunities for cross-validation of VTI’s FlightStack.

Blue Horizon laps in the pattern on FlightRadar24!

Blue Horizons imagery on final approach to Ionia County Airport Runway 10 just east of KGRR.

Stay tuned for Blue Horizon updates!

Why “Blue Horizons”? The project is named after our CTO, Eric Muir's, alma mater, VTI’s connection with the state of Michigan, and the location of the project in Grand Rapids, MI (KGRR). Go Blue!


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