Goleta startup develops technology to propel future of air transportation
Picture this. You want to take a day trip to Los Angeles, but you don’t want to deal with the traffic. What if instead of driving, you could take an emission-free flying car?
It might sound like something straight out of “The Jetsons,” but engineers say we could see flying cars on the market within the next two decades.
In fact, LaunchPoint, an aerospace startup in Goleta, is already creating and testing highly technical air propulsion systems that will pave the way for the future of air transport.
Situated in a small office space behind Habit Burger in downtown Goleta, LaunchPoint engineers are working to develop hybrid-electric generators that can be used to power large cargo drones and, eventually, flying cars.
“Our work is going to personally affect everybody by changing the paradigm for which goods and services and people are delivered,” CEO Rob Reali told the News-Press. “You really will see here, within 24-36 months, your Amazon package being silently delivered to your doorstep instead of a UPS person or a postal service person starting at 5:30 a.m. driving all over the city to drop off packages.”
This futuristic technology has been developed by LaunchPoint engineers for more than a decade, and the company is in the process of selling its latest development, the HSP GenSet 40 kilowatt generator, to leading air mobility firms all over the world. LaunchPoint generators are battery-powered, making them emission-free and efficient.
The startup is currently distributing its first 10 prototypes to potential customers, with five already shipped to potential buyers. Mr. Reali told the News-Press the startup is on the cusp of achieving the next level of success once their potential customers are satisfied with the prototype development.
Though the company only launched six months ago as a spinoff of the think tank LaunchPoint Technologies, it is already in contact with some of the top Fortune 500 companies all over the world.
“Just one contract changes who we are in terms of growth and success,” Mr. Reali said.
The company is already racking up grants from the Department of Defense for the development of larger generators that will power flying cars for future Air Force Missions. Just in the last six months, the company won two inaugural awards from the Air Force, providing it with over $1 million in grants to develop larger generators with longer flight times. Currently, LaunchPoint’s largest generator can power drone flights for up to two hours.
“The Air Force is becoming the preeminent Department of Defense organization to support flying cars,” Chris Greico, vice president of Business Development and Sales, told the News-Press. “(The Air Force) needs them on the battlefield, whether its logistics, delivery, rescue or extraction.”
Companies like Amazon and Uber are sitting at the forefront of the air mobility movement, investing billions into the future of large drones and air taxis. Car companies such as Hyundai are in the early stages of designing flying cars, and LaunchPoint’s generators will play a role in powering the flight technology.
Though flying cars are still over a decade away, drone technology will take a leading role in the delivery of goods within the next three years, LaunchPoint executives said.
As drone delivery becomes more accessible, in-person delivery is expected to take a back seat. However, Mr. Greico stressed the job opportunities for postal workers and delivery drivers.
“You need drone pilots. You need people to service drones and there will always be customer follow-up,” he said.
“If this gets big enough, it’ll employ, looking at the net amount, way more people than it displaces.”