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Unmanned vehicles have become an advanced technology field that large and small companies alike are interested in. Aviation giant Boeing is strengthening its capabilities in the autonomous systems field for innovative aerospace vehicles. The company plans to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, a world-class innovator, developer and manufacturer of advanced aerospace platforms, under an agreement signed by the companies.

Aurora specializes in autonomous systems technologies to enable advanced robotic aircraft for future aerospace applications and vehicles.

Leveraging autonomous systems that include perception, machine learning and advanced flight control systems, Aurora has designed, produced and flown more than 30 unmanned air vehicles since the company was founded in 1989. Aurora Flight Sciences is a leader in the emerging field of electric propulsion for aircraft. During the last decade, Aurora has collaborated with Boeing on the rapid prototyping of innovative aircraft and structural assemblies for both military and commercial applications.

“The combined strength and innovation of our teams will advance the development of autonomy for our commercial and military systems,” said Greg Hyslop, chief technology officer and senior vice president of Boeing Engineering, Test & Technology, in the company’s statement on its website. “Together, these talented teams will open new markets with transformational technologies.”

“Since its inception, Aurora has been focused on the development of innovative aircraft that leverage autonomy to make aircraft smarter,” said John Langford, Aurora founder and chief executive officer. “As an integral part of Boeing, our pioneered technologies of long-endurance aircraft, robotic co-pilots, and autonomous electric VTOLs will be transitioned into world-class products for the global infrastructure.”

Once acquired, Aurora will be a subsidiary under Boeing Engineering, Test & Technology known as Aurora Flight Sciences, A Boeing Company. It will retain an independent operating model while benefiting from Boeing’s resources and position as the leading provider of aerospace products and services.

Virginia-based Aurora has more than 550 employees.