In 2019, AeroVironment, a California-based drone developer and the largest supplier of unmanned aircraft to the U.S. military, sought to expand to the East Coast. The nonprofit MassRobotics pointed the company to Northeastern’s Innovation Campus in Burlington, Massachusetts. The campus forges research collaborations on site with companies, which also gain valuable access to academic and government partners.
Welcoming AeroVironment to Burlington, Northeastern built a 3D printing and electronics lab to the company’s specifications. Within three months, AeroVironment’s research group grew from three to 43. The group has begun working closely with faculty members, integrating their expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and materials into quadcopter prototypes. The teams assess the drones’ communications, cybersecurity, and GPS navigation capabilities within the campus’s Expeditionary Cyber and Unmanned Aircraft Systems R&D Facility.