We have now launched a Wefunder pitch for people to indicate their interest in investing in ASST. The link is:
We are using the ‘Testing the Waters’ facility on Wefunder in order to gauge the level of interest before setting the target raise for the round, which has to be declared on the Form C for the SEC. It is obligatory to add the following statement with this preliminary indicative ‘offer’:
“We are ‘testing the waters’ to gauge investor interest in an offering under Regulation Crowdfunding. No money or other consideration is being solicited. If sent, it will not be accepted. No offer to buy securities will be accepted. No part of the purchase price will be received until a Form C is filed and only through Wefunder’s platform. Any indication of interest involves no obligation or commitment of any kind.”
ASST provides a new vehicle in the USA to market both the armoured vehicle and the eVTOL technologies to the US and Canadian markets under the same company, hence the generic technology-orientated name.
Given that the US provides over 50% of the global market for both our armoured vehicle and eVTOL products we are focussed on developing the activities in the USA, which this planned funding round will support.
Amoured Vehicle Products
It may be the case that the recently stated US Army intention to find solutions to the threat from large IEDs, hence creating substantial ‘user-pull’ for the first time, has resulted in a specific approach to us from a major European defence industry player, with which discussions are scheduled to begin in January 2022.
If you look through the pitch on Wefunder you will see that there have been some exciting developments over the course of even the last few days.
- DARPA Tactical Technology Office (TTO) have issued a call for new technologies, titled “Redefining Possible”, which is exactly what our VGAM™ technology does in terms of protecting against large IED threats. The DARPA call specifically refers to ground mobility being critical to avoiding fatal attacks. We are now coordinating our approach to DARPA and the Pentagon Rapid Reaction Technology Office with our US Army CRADA manager to try to get a fully coordinated approach to funding the full development and certification of our VGAM technology. We also understand that the requirements team for a new US army vehicle has requested information on the funding and timescale required to get the VGAM system into production, so several pieces of the jigsaw puzzle appear to be coming together.
So we are now planning a new campaign to promote the game-changing upgrade in tactical mobility that adding a fleet of highly IED-resistant vehicles fitted with the VGAM system would bring, meeting the stated mobility improvement objectives of both the DARPA TTO and the US Army, and get the message to the key high-level requirements personnel in the US, UK, and NATO military.
- Following a meeting at the recent FAVS Conference in London we have had an approach from a major player with a global footprint and a strong position in armoured vehicle protection systems. Our VGAM™ system would be an excellent fit with their product range. This long-awaited development could be a very interesting, and we plan formal discussions to commence in early 2022.
- The Technology Discovery Event that was scheduled for 4th November 2021 was postponed due to the Covid situation in the USA. It has not been re-scheduled yet, but in view of the long list of activities outlined above it may be a blessing in disguise as we will probably be very busy getting new projects under way early next year.
- Our parent Company, Advanced Blast & Ballistic Systems Limited (https://www.advanced-blast.com) is currently starting an extensive marketing campaign for the carbon fibre reinforced belly plate which has been developed over the past 18 months both under a DSTL/DASA contract and the Innovate UK funded project, with some of our own funding thrown in as well. The result is that we have demonstrated the possibility of dealing with a 4kg mine under a Toyota Hilux and protecting the occupants from serious injury, using blast seats from our Israeli supplier to protect against spinal injuries from the Global Acceleration. The design will also take 6kg without being penetrated, which is way beyond any previous known solution for such a light civilian vehicle as the Hilux.
- We are now proposing an extended development project with DSTL/DASA which would provide data on potential weight saving/improved peak deformation performance for UK military vehicles, where a 10% weight reduction would be regarded as ‘very interesting’. Our Hilux work suggests that up to a 30% weight reduction might be achieved, so if this proves correct we will have a very interesting product indeed, and it may be the case that the graphene technology could provide an additional potential benefit.
- The agreement with Graphene Composites to explore the potential benefits of incorporating graphene technology into the ABBS products is now in place and specific options are being discussed.
Following several years of slow-paced evaluation of our VGAM technology by the US Army (due to their focus on RPG/missile interception and adoption of Rafael’s Trophy system) it seems likely that we will see the pace pick up; watch this space.
We are also beginning to make in-roads with our Safety Eco-System for eVTOL Aircraft. Manufacturers have begun to accept the need for stroking crashworthy seats and we have received the backing of two leading European eVTOL companies and a major flight control system supplier in our latest R&D proposal bid.
- Following on-site testing with a local operation developing autonomous vehicle sensor/control technology we have another new and important development in view for the eVTOL aircraft, especially when operating in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) role.
Whenever an emergency occurs in flight requiring an immediate emergency landing (such as a serious bird strike, which is going to be a big issue for these aircraft in the UAM role, or a battery fire) the first requirement for the pilot is to find an emergency landing site. The concept for our system is to use the autonomous road vehicle technology to look down from the eVTOL and continuously monitor potential emergency landing sites under the flight path.
Running this idea past several major eVTOL industry players (designers, flight control system suppliers, and regulators) all were unanimous in endorsing the concept both designers and flight control system suppliers wanting to be involved in the project in an advisory capacity and keeping a view on progress and potentially incorporating the system into their aircraft. This is an excellent response and we have applied for a £0.75m collaborative R&D grant from Innovate UK to develop the technology. With the response we have from both industry players and aviation regulators, who all noted that the system will be essential when eVTOL’s become fully autonomous (i.e. flying without a pilot) we will be very disappointed if this grant application is not accepted.
- Furthermore, at the Future Armoured Vehicle Survivability Conference two weeks ago it was stated that Denial of Service attacks are a very serious issue and many systems in armoured vehicles, not just location, rely on the GPS signal, which is very easy to disrupt or spoof. The system described above for the eVTOLs is very easily adaptable to provide a solution by matching the current view from above the vehicle with previously available views. The concept was run past the DSTL expert who raised the issue at the conference, who readily acknowledged that there was no reason this would not work to provide the missing location/navigation data. Hence we are also applying to DSTL/DASA for an R&D grant, to develop this system for them.
- Our Israeli partner in the development of crashworthy seats for the eVTOL aircraft is close to launching them in the market having nearly completed the design work, and they have asked us to start to push the product to such as Vertical Aerospace in the UK and Volocopter in Germany, and we will do the same in the USA through ASR.
We have also established an influential position in the EUROCAE/EASA activity designed to provide a new standard for crashworthy seats for eVTOLs. We instigated the formation of this Working Group at EUROCAE but a while ago the work was delegated to a US-based SAE Aircraft Seat committee which was already working on the issue. After a few meetings the Chairman decided that defining a new standard for stroking crashworthy/Energy Absorbing (EA) seats was too complex to define, so they would delete that element from the new draft standard.
We believe that this would mean that a great opportunity to improve occupant safety in eVTOLs was going to be missed, with potentially serious consequences for the industry in the long term. This was also the opinion of a rotorcraft seat expert at Bell in Canada, who stated that currently the stroking seats often used in helicopters did not protect their occupants from spinal injuries. Currently stroking seats only work for mid-range occupant weights, with children, light people, and heavy people not being protected at all.
Given the position of the regulators and the divergent priorities of the eVTOL designers it will be impossible to get a new stroking seat standard adopted any time soon, but we volunteered to develop a proposal for an Aerospace Recommended Practice (ARP) and were given free rein by the committee Chairman to pursue an industry consensus on the issue. So we are now leading what is effectively a sub-committee with support from the Bell Canada seat expert and our Israeli seat supplier, plus Safran Seats (a current major supplier to the industry).
Now while the eVTOL designers are not obliged to follow an Aerospace Recommended Practice it is quite possible that the insurers may drive the situation indue course, either imposing very high premiums or refusing insurance at all if the ARP is not followed. This and public pressure, and maybe the city authorities who have to deal with the consequences of any UAM accidents could well be the final arbiters of what develops here, irrespective of the attitude of the regulators.
As you can see, whilst there remains interest in all of our products globally, the US is the most important single market in the move towards certification and sales of our rocket-based solutions. Once on a defined, funded path to certification in the US, then this will support ASST marketing activities for the same products to the rest of the world.