US aerospace giant Boeing got some big headlines this week. The company announced plans that it would acquire Aurora Flight Sciences, aviation and aeronautics research company that focuses on autonomous flight system technology. Boeing also backed a Seattle-based Startup that works on a new hybrid commuter aircraft.

According to TechCrunch, the Seattle-based tech giant announced this week that it would acquire the Virginia-based aeronautics research company for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to help Boeing on its self-flying vehicle development efforts, which intended for both military and commercial use.

Aurora is well-known in the aviation circle for its deep expertise and experience in building autonomous flight vehicle.

The company has designed and flown over 30-pilotless aircraft.

About the target company

Founded in 1989 and based in Manassas, Virginia, Aurora Flight Sciences is an aviation and aeronautics research company that specializes in autonomous and unmanned aircraft. Aurora focuses on autonomous flight systems designed to make autonomous or unmanned aircraft a reality. Aurora made its first big contract when it joined the Global Hawk team, where it contracted to build composite fuselage components and tail assemblies for the Northrop Grumman’s unmanned surveillance aircraft RQ-4 and the USAF.

The Virginia-based company has also involved in several NASA programs, including it recent works on how to fly an aircraft on the red planet of Mars. Aurora has already demoed an aircraft that flew from an altitude of 100,000 in 2002.

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The goal of that research was to simulate the low density of the Martian atmosphere.

Additionally, Aurora has also worked and developed its own line of small vertical take-off UAV (unmanned autonomous vehicle), which known in the aviation world as the GoldenEye. In 2009, the company introduced the third variant of this vertical take-off UAV lines, the GoldenEye-80. The GoldenEye-80 was introduced at the 2009 AUVSI (Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) North America trade show.

In addition to its own UAV efforts and NASA partnership, Aurora Flight Sciences has also made some partnership with USAF and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Program Agency). The three are currently working on an autonomous, vertical take-off and landing aircraft, dubbed as the LightningStrike XV-24A.

Once the deal with Boeing goes through, Aurora will continue to operate as its own independent subsidiary of the aerospace giant Boeing. Aurora will also continue its work on designing and producing autonomous or unmanned aircraft, the TechCrunch reported.

Boeing backs a Seattle-based startup

According to Reuter, Boeing and JetBlue Airways have backed a Seattle-based startup, which reportedly working on a small hybrid-electric commuter aircraft. Zunum plans to bring a small hybrid-electric powered commuter aircraft to the market by the year 2022.

The planned commuter aircraft will offer seat up to 12 passengers and will be powered by two electric motors. Zunum claimed that the planned aircraft would dramatically reduce the overall travel time and cost of trips under 1000 miles.