Vantage Robotics Looks to Grow in Ohio

The first eVTOL Flight

Silicon Valley startup is the latest to take advantage of state’s military connections

By Terry Troy

Southwest Ohio’s high flying connection to our military continues to attract aerospace and advanced manufacturing companies. The latest is Silicon Valley Startup Vantage Robotics. The company recently received funding from the state and venture capitalists to build and grow in Ohio.

“We are honored that JobsOhio is supporting Vantage and we look forward to expanding our operations into Ohio,” said Tobin Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Vantage Robotics. “There is an enormous reserve of military and defense talent in Ohio, which will be a huge advantage for expanding our existing top-notch team.”

Tobin Fisher

Headquartered in San Leandro, CA, Vantage Robotics builds and sells UAVs and UAV components for government and commercial customers. The company was founded in 2013 and their products have been used by the U.S. Military, CNN, Tribune Media, C-Span, multiple law enforcement agencies, and hundreds of other customers.

The expansion in Ohio will mark the company’s first staffing and production outside of its headquarters in California. This will allow Vantage Robotics to have improved flexibility and production as it increases both its staffing and available funding.

In addition to the established military operations and defense talent in our state, Vantage also cited Ohio as being a great location for companies looking to expand and advance aviation and aerospace operations due to military, corporate and government investment.

In related news, the U.S. Air Force recently conducted its first remotely piloted eVTOL flight in partnership with the U.S. Air Force Agility Prime program and Kittyhawk, the eVTOL manufacturer headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. The flight took place in Springfield.

Launched in April 2020, the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime Program is the Air Force’s collaborative initiative to work with the industrial sector for testing and experimentation for the commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft industry. This program was designed to enable resilient distributed logistics and sustainable mobility.

With our leading-edge aerospace research, innovation, and collaborative development, it’s no wonder that this program has chosen Ohio to take flight. The Air Force granted approval for unmanned flights for the 880-lb. gross-weight Heaviside in July 2021 and in November 2021, the Heaviside had its first beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight at the Agility Prime test hub at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

In December, Capt. Terrance McKenna, Air Force Reserve pilot and test experimentation lead for Agility Prime, flew the Heaviside as the remote pilot in control. As part of their partnership with Agility Prime, Kittyhawk will produce a training syllabus for the single-seat, tilt-prop eVTOL aircraft.

Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Ohio Department of Transportation, Kittyhawk used the SkyVision ground-based detect-and-avoid system to fly the Heaviside

alongside manned traffic. The Heaviside is now the first remotely controlled BVLOS flight in non-restricted airspace by an eVTOL company. The Air Force’s AFWerx innovation unit is also looking to use the Heaviside for autonomous missions that include casualty evacuation and recovery of downed aircrew. Agility Prime has also announced flight-test agreements with eVTOL, Joby Aviation, Beta Technologies, Lift Aircraft, Elroy Air, Archer Aviation and Sarewing Aircraft.

This program and the continued military aerospace investment in Ohio once again shows the state’s capability in leading aerospace and aviation technology.