Sterling Heights

Sterling Heights start-up awarded grant to test pilot-less aircraft

Sterling Heights-based RAVE Cave received a $100,000 grant to test unmanned aerial systems (UAS), along with two other Michigan companies, Great Lakes Drone Company and P3 Mobility.

The latest round of PlanetM testing grants was announced on Monday by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in coordination with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. Grant recipients received  a total of $200,000 in funding to demonstrate their mobility solutions at testing facilities, including Mcity at the University of Michigan and Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC).

RAVE Cave operates a 3D virtual reality simulator for businesses to test products, and received the funding for ongoing testing at MUASC to assist development of UAS infrastructure. The project uses 3D visual models to create flight paths, traffic patterns, and landing sites. Organizers hope interactive models and simulation will allow Michigan communities to understand how UAS will be integrated throughout the state’s mobility infrastructure. 

“The program has been well received,” said Art Adlam, president of RAVE Cave. “To date, the simulation allows control of a generic drone in representations of existing and envisioned environments. Current environments include a potential test site in the Upper Peninsula, a portion of downtown Detroit and an envisioned office complex located in a fabricated mountainous terrain.”

Stevensville-based Great Lakes Drone Company received a $50,000 grant to test an aerial agriculture solution at the MUASC and Ann Arbor-based P3 Mobility received a $50,000 grant to test software to allow vehicles to communicate with road-side infrastructure at Mcity.
“We are excited about the depth of unmanned aerial systems solutions being tested, developed and deployed here in Michigan,” said Charlie Tyson, MEDC Mobility Technology Activations Manager. “Our testing grant program brings together two key assets in our state’s growing mobility ecosystem — our premier testing facilities and access to capital. We believe programs like this fuel mobility innovation, and we look forward to supporting the acceleration of these technologies.”
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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at