Airbus to 3D-Print Drones and Self-Driving Vehicles in New Venture

The firm has signed a new agreement with a San Francisco-based 3D-printing start-up.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Airbus has signed a new deal to manufacture drones and self-driving cars with Local Motors Industries, a 3D-printing start-up in San Francisco. The two companies are joining forces to launch Neorizon, a venture which will build mobility and autonomy solutions.


Mobility challenges

“Every local and state government is faced with challenges such as rapid urbanization and congestion, inefficient and pollutive transport, and ever-changing and evolving technology,” said in a statement Jay Rogers, CEO and founder of LM Industries.

“Current transport infrastructure and existing mass manufacturing are too inflexible and capital intense to service evolving technology trends and changing consumer demands.”

Neorizon's aim will be to operate a "microfactory" where new transportation products "will be built rapidly and efficiently." Neorizon’s operations will be based at Airbus’ Ludwig-Bölkow-Campus near Munich, Germany in conjunction with an Innovation Campus including a new Technical University of Munich Campus. 

“We’ve been working with LM Industries’ team at Local Motors since early 2016 when we realized the unique value proposition surrounding direct digital manufacturing and open-source design. Both parties recognized the commercial opportunities for pooling resources and expertise, specifically combining LM Industries’ digital manufacturing with Airbus’ materials expertise, metal 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and prototyping and serial production capabilities," said Peter Weckesser, Digital Transformation Officer of Airbus Defence and Space.

Open to new partnerships

Essentially what Neorizon will be doing is 3D-printing mobility solutions such as drones and self-driving cars. Dirk Hoke, chief executive of Airbus Defence, told the Financial Times the new venture is about driving innovation and that they are open to working with more partners.

“As a big company you struggle to have a good story on how to drive innovation compared to little start-ups,” Hoke said. “Here is a good combination: an open ecosystem for co-development, prototyping and inviting other companies.”

In 2016, Local Motors 3D-printed Olli, a self-driving shuttle built with 90% fewer parts than a traditional vehicle and 100% recyclable parts.


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