DASH Systems Completes “Big Dipper” Alaska Expedition Trip to Study Higher-Precision Airdrops

August 9, 2021

Dash Launch
A DASH package is deployed over an Alaska community. Photo by Dash Systems.

Center ICE has teamed up with Dash Systems and the Office of Naval Research to advance precision airdrop delivery service through testing in rural Alaska.

Startup company DASH Systems, a technology company based in Los Angeles, is developing hardware and software to allow retailers, package delivery companies, and emergency management organizations to autonomously release and land packages from commercial aircraft. The cargo container has a parachute as well as guidance and real-time control apparatus to direct its flight path onto helipad-size target areas. UAF’s Center for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship brought DASH’s technology to Alaska, where modern airdrop delivery – which is becoming economical and safe – can be well suited for the state’s countless remote locations. The technology has applications in the military context as well, and thus Center ICE was able to partner with the Office of Naval Research, a long-time supporter of innovation and entrepreneurialism in Alaska.

“We tend to think of logistics as solved in large cities, but there are still hundreds of rural and remote locations that do not have access to large hubs for distribution of packages or materials,” said Joel Ifill, founder and CEO at DASH Systems, in a story in the Cision PR Newswire last month.

“In Alaska, the large majority of communities still don't have access to the road network and instead have to rely on air cargo to get supplies in,” Ifill said. “The Bethel area alone has over 50 fly-in-only communities. All it takes is bad weather, a damaged gravel runway or the lack of a road between the airport and end location to stop the delivery. We created DASH to rethink logistics and shipping for communities like these by bridging the sky and the ground.”

When the initial project ended on July 26, the Dash Systems team had covered more than 7,000 miles of Alaska terrain. The team performed demonstration deliveries to multiple remote facilities, including UAF’s High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program, Poker Flat Research Range, the village of Minto, and Toolik Field Station. In each location, multiple precision airdrop pods capable of holding fifteen pounds of cargo were launched from a Cessna 208 into the specified landing zone.

Center ICE supports innovation and entrepreneurialism at the University of Alaska and across the state with the mission of maximizing the economic and social benefit of Alaska R&D. To accomplish this goal, Center ICE regularly works with the Office of Naval Research, a strong supporter of innovation and entrepreneurialism in Alaska, and industry partners on a wide range of projects. Center ICE offers funding and services to advance innovative ideas and help Alaska companies get started.

For more information, contact Mark Billingsley at mcbillingsley@alaska.edu