NASA Awards Circle Optics a Phase I Contract to Enhance Detect and Avoid Optical Sensing for Urban Air Mobility

Aug 5, 2022 | Company News | 0 comments


press ReleasE, August 5, 2022, Rochester, New York

Circle Optics, innovators with patented technology enabling real-time, high-resolution multi-camera systems that provide panoramic video without the distortion and errors inherent in other systems, has been awarded a $150,000 NASA Phase I SBIR contract to “Enhance Detect and Avoid Optical Sensing for Urban Air Mobility.”

During this Phase I project, Circle Optics will further develop a wide angle staring EO/IR optical system for enabling the air safety of eVTOLs as they traverse the airspace. This system will remove the temporal inefficiencies and noise of the conventional gimballed systems. Circle Optics will focus on furthering the optical and mechanical system development, while also further exploring the requirements for testing and integration of our optical system into eVTOLs.

“The FAA requires that autonomous eVTOLs and UAVs have sense & avoid capabilities that are at least as safe – or better than – those of manned aircraft. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Center develops technology to meet this requirement. We are thrilled that our technology can support progress in both technology and safety,” says Zak Niazi, Circle Optics CEO. 

NASA anticipates that radar can not meet this demand for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft due to its bulky size and interference effects. Additionally autonomous air travel will  require multiple sensing modalities, including optical  imaging, to collaboratively enable air safety. NASA contracted with Circle Optics in 2021 to develop initial designs for EO/IR sensors with both an ultrawide field-of-view and ultrahigh resolution, to meet the FAA’s requirements of detecting uncooperative air traffic 3.4 nautical miles out within a 270 x 30-degree field of regard.

“Collaborating with NASA will further our progress in revolutionizing panoramic imaging. Relative to safe air travel, we want to enable an optical safety net over a wide field of view,” said Andy Kurtz, Circle Optics, Director of R&D and Principal Investigator.

For more information, please visit Circle Optics at  

For more  information about NASA’s Armstrong’s Flight Center, please visit 

About Circle Optics

Founded in 2017, Circle Optics has developed patented technology that enables the ability to capture the entire world in stitch-less, instant 360-degree imaging. This unique capability is revolutionizing aerospace and unmanned flight, and enhancing immersive experiences globally. We are just beginning to learn the applications of this new technology and are eager to learn how wider field-of-views will enhance other technologies.

Media Contact

Jennifer Sertl

Director of Marketing, Circle Optics

+ 1 (585) 704-5202

Post Tags: CircleOptics, NASA

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