WindShape Expands Global Reach with State-of-the-Art Drone Testing Laboratories in Tulsa, Oklahoma
6 Apr 2023
WindShape, a trailblazing Swiss company established in 2016, has been revolutionizing the drone industry through research, development, testing, inspection, certification, and validation. In an ambitious effort to extend its global presence, WindShape is announcing a strategic partnership with the Osage tribal nation, to open a cutting-edge indoor drone testing and validation facility at the Skyway36 Droneport and Technology Innovation Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Spanning an impressive 19,000 square feet, this facility will be operated exclusively by WindShape and will utilize its groundbreaking ‘Windshaper’ technology, to create an indoor free-flight laboratory, simulating natural wind & weather profiles for precise and reliable test results.
Guillaume Catry, co-founder and CEO of WindShape, says, "After extensive exploration and engagement with the remarkable people representing the Oklahoma region, WindShape believes that Tulsa will become a major innovation hub and technology influencer in the emerging uncrewed aircraft and Advanced Aerial Mobility (AAM) industry. We are glad that our solutions, focused on enabling the industry through testing and certification, will contribute to consolidate the regional effort and strategy. Today, testing uncrewed aircraft, or 'drones', for commercial operations is often expensive and inefficient, with limited repeatability and inadequate digital tools for capturing data for compliance and validation. We will address these issues that are critical for this industry, with our exclusive 'Windshaper' technology to simulate any drone flight situation in a laboratory environment. The facility will house 8 specialized labs, each designed to test and validate different drone systems, such as a climate lab for assessing weather resilience, a propulsion lab to validate propulsion units, and two free-flight activity labs equipped with motion tracking cameras, GPS generators, and other digital tools that simulate a drone's flight mission.”
Craig Mahaney, CEO of Droneport Network, which oversees the Skyway36 center, states, "WindShape will provide unparalleled testing and validation services for drones at a single indoor facility. As a result of the BBB Regional Challenge and the $38.2 million federal grant, the TRAM Cluster has been established, forming a 'super region' for advanced uncrewed transportation systems in the Tulsa region. The WindShape test center will play a vital role in evaluating operational risks and validating safety for flights within the test corridor and the National Airspace System (NAS).”
Frank Freeman, chairman of the Osage LLC board, expresses enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, “On behalf of the Board of Osage LLC and Osage Nation, we are excited to be a part of the future of the drone industry. The Osage Nation has been front and center in providing capital resources in the form of infrastructure and cash to further the success of this enterprise. We are excited about the opportunities to provide high-quality jobs for our Citizens and for our Nation to increase its business division. We are grateful to be a part of our state and local government and my alma mater, Oklahoma State University, in their work in providing resources to move this industry forward.” As the drone industry expands globally, the demand for testing, validation, and certification also increases. The WindShape facility aims to establish a consistent and reproducible laboratory environment to realize reliable test outcomes.
The WindShape facility aligns seamlessly with the objectives of the Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility (TRAM) coalition. Organized by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), the coalition brings together key stakeholders such as Oklahoma State University, the Osage Nation, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Tulsa Innovation Labs, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation. WindShape's primary mission is to foster the expansion of the commercial drone industry by providing essential data that improves safety within the National Airspace System. They aim to support manufacturers, operators, and regulatory bodies in capturing, quantifying, and validating operational data to encourage safety and growth within the industry. With the global expansion of the drone industry, the need for testing, inspection, validation, and certification services continues to grow. The WindShape facility is committed to creating a stable and replicable laboratory environment to ensure dependable test results.
“WindShape provides a nucleus of knowledge-based capital and much needed research, testing, evaluation, and product innovation capability to drone manufacturers around the world,” says Brent Kisling, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “Uncrewed technologies are a vital aspect of the future of the aerospace and defense sector. For more than a decade, Oklahoma has been at the forefront of this technology, and I can say with confidence that we will continue to be a leader in this field.”
“WindShape is the missing link to ensure the operational risk validation necessary to the advancement of aerial mobility and safety in the National Airspace System,” says Hopper Smith, state director of aerospace and defense for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “This facility is a major step toward Oklahoma leading in the development of next generation safe and innovative advanced mobility transportation technology, built on Oklahoma’s strong aerospace industry and technology.”
“The new WindShape Tulsa test facility is a unique and much needed resource for the nascent Advanced Aerial Mobility sector,” says Dr. Jamey Jacob, director of the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education and Counter-UAS Center of Excellence at Oklahoma State University. “I am very excited to work with their team and use the WindShape concept to benefit our customers, government and commercial alike. I’m a big proponent of their design, and their services will provide critical testing and evaluation capabilities required to push adoption forward across the industry.”
“WindShape’s decision to relocate its North American headquarters in Tulsa – and to build its new test facility here as well – is a great example of how regional collaboration results in wins for everyone,” says Arthur Jackson, senior vice president of economic development for the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “The Chamber-led Tulsa’s Future regional economic development partnership is proud to be part of projects such as this that strengthen our region’s position in the Advanced Aerial Mobility arena. Thank you to everyone at WindShape for seeing the value our region will bring to their enterprise.”
“When inTulsa realized the enormous impact that WindShape’s new testing facility will have on Tulsa’s Advanced Mobility sector, we were excited to champion them to our local public and private partners. We are thrilled to be their on the ground resource to lay the pathway for their growth and facilitate a soft landing in Tulsa.” said Louie Napoleone, Director of Acquisition at inTulsa.
The WindShape facility will be situated at Skyway36, a significant part of the Tulsa region’s Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Flight Test Corridor initiative. This project comprises four operating nodes that connect facilities in Oklahoma State University, Osage, and Tulsa within a 114 nautical mile UAS and advanced air mobility research and testing flight corridor. Skyway36 also offers a 3,000-foot runway that is suitable for small fixed-wing aircraft, and helipad space for UAS and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.
“The George Kaiser Family Foundation is thrilled to welcome WindShape to our vibrant community of innovators and entrepreneurs in Tulsa,” says Jeff Stava, chief program officer at the George Kaiser Family Foundation. “Utilizing our strong public and private partnerships, inTulsa and Tulsa Innovation Labs were able to help facilitate a clear pathway for Windshape’s new testing facility. This is another step forward in building a robust advanced mobility industry in Tulsa, and we are grateful to have them in our city.”