January 23, 2024

SkyDome Hosts Successful Tests by LiquidPiston

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SkyDome, Oneida County's cutting-edge indoor Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) test facility, started the New Year with a resounding success by welcoming LiquidPiston for a series of tests of their modified VTOL airframe.

LiquidPiston, based in Bloomfield, CT, designs and develops groundbreaking compact, powerful, and quiet multi-fuel rotary engines and hybrid electric power systems.

Under a development contract awarded by the U.S. Army, LiquidPiston is currently developing the 25 hp XTS-210 heavy-fueled rotary engine for multiple power system applications, including UAS direct and hybrid electric propulsion. CamFlite successfully retrofitted the VTOL aircraft with the state-of-the-art Auterion SkyNode flight management system. Collaborating with LiquidPiston and AX Enterprize Teams, the CamFlite team conducted the flight tests to enhance the performance of the unmanned VTOL aircraft.  The primary objective of the SkyDome tests is to prepare to utilize this engine as a hybrid electric propulsion system for UAS, specifically a modified Off-The-Shelf (OTS) carbon fiber VTOL airframe capable of 5 to 10 hour flights and a payload up to 20kg.

SkyDome is the largest, indoor/outdoor instrumented experimentation environment in the United States that supports year-round development and test of advanced UAS technologies. Located at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY, SkyDome is the only facility on the East Coast capable of hosting tests of LiquidPiston's substantial airframe, the largest airframe tested at SkyDome to-date. LiquidPiston, with support from AX Enterprize flight engineers, the firm responsible for managing the NY UAS Test Site and SkyDome, achieved their test goal - a stable hover that paves the way for mounting and testing LiquidPiston's proprietary engine.

LiquidPiston’s co-founder & CTO, Nikolay Shkolnik, expressed his enthusiasm for the SkyDome facility and appreciation of the successful tests, stating, "Being able to perform our inaugural tests with our new airframe indoors in the dead of winter with snow falling the whole time is critical to keeping our development and flight testing programs on schedule.  The SkyDome AX Enterprize team was great to work with, which is also a critical success factor.” 

Oneida County and AX Enterprize eagerly anticipate welcoming LiquidPiston back to SkyDome for the next phase of testing in the near future.

“Cutting edge tests like these are the reason why Oneida County’s SkyDome facility is leading the nation in UAS research and development,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “We look forward to the next phase of LiquidPiston’s testing which will revolutionize multiple power system applications.”

SkyDome, the largest UAS experimentation facility in the United States, measuring approximately 150’(W) X 150’ (L) X 50’ (H), is a transformational enhancement to the FAA designated New York UAS Test Site. The unique GPS-denied test environment has 16 instrumentation junction boxes with RF coaxial cable and fiber optic cable for data reach back and situational awareness in the control room. The walls and ceiling are constructed to support varied RF reflection and absorption emulating an urban environment.

SkyDome and the NY UAS Test Site are owned and operated by Oneida County with management and technical support provided by AX Enterprize.  SkyDome offers year-round, indoor/outdoor testing of advanced UAS technologies capabilities including RF spectrum for command and control, remote ID, detect and avoid, vehicle to vehicle to communications, mobile networking, artificial intelligence-based flight controls, autonomous swarms and counter UAS. SkyDome doors open to a netted area, providing an environment that enables problems and risks to be addressed before “flying in the wild”.

SkyDome and the FAA designated NY UAS Test Site are integral components of the burgeoning Griffiss Business and Technology Park (GBTP), spanning 3,500 acres and previously a U.S. Air Force Base. Today, this thriving ecosystem hosts leading companies specializing in UAS, quantum computing, command and control, communications, cyber security, manufacturing, and more, providing employment to nearly 6,000 individuals.

SkyDome plays a vital role in collaborative endeavors between the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate and the NY UAS Test Site, facilitating the creating and validation of technologies for UAS to operate safely and securely in the National Airspace System (NAS).

AX Enterprize is a hardware and software engineering firm with extensive real-world experience in UAS operations, Air Domain Awareness (ADA), Uncrewed Traffic Management (UTM) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). AX Enterprize manages the FAA designated NY UAS Test Site and SkyDome on behalf of Oneida County, providing UAS operations support, from command and control, mission planning, ADA and situation awareness, to payload design and UTM/AAM integration. AX personnel are experienced leaders in advanced communications, signal processing, networking, cyber security, system resilience, and support applications that enable UTM/AAM services, Internet of Things (IoT), UAS detection, identification and counter capabilities utilizing the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) technologies with 3-D Visualization, GEO-Spatial situation awareness and Meta Data Overlays.

LiquidPiston, Inc., a technology startup based in Bloomfield, CT, is leading the power systems industry’s development of combustion engines that are scalable (from one horsepower (hp) to over 1,000), compact (delivering 1.5 hp/lb), and capable of efficiently utilizing fossil or low-carbon fuels. The company’s patented High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle™ (HEHC), aka “The Shkolnik Cycle”, and engine architecture innovation support next-generation fuel-energy conversion solutions for hybrid power systems, including for UAS, mobile power generation, and APU applications.

To learn more, visit www.liquidpiston.com.

Oneida County Partners