As ACMA Board Chairman Jeff Craney of Crane Composites and Rick Willardson of SAMPE welcomed attendees to the CAMX General Session, Craney encouraged participants to “change your vantage point; take the opportunity to be open to what you see. Think about what’s possible, and don’t worry about how to get there or if you have all the answers.” The three keynote speakers certainly embody those principles.

Daniel Preston, CEO and CTO of Luminati Aerospace LLC, talked about the potential for composites to make a social impact on the world. He recently began working with a major to connect the 3.5 billion people in the world without access to telecommunications services. Since it’s not possible to use copper wire, fiber optics or satellites in these remote areas, Luminati Aerospace developed high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), low-cost satellites that can be moved around at will.

One result of this project has been the Model VO-Substrata, a 400-pound, carbon-fiber aircraft powered by solar electric and wind-energy harvesting. It takes 4 killowatts to keep the aircraft in the air; the wings have 14 kilowatts of solar cells on them. The company recently demonstrated and recorded a 70 percent reduction in the power needed to keep the formation aloft. Preston says this advance is “the game changer of all gamer changers” on the road to perpetual flight.

The second speaker, Gregory Haye, general manager of Local Motors in Knoxville, Tenn., says the goal of his company is to “strive to change the way that manufacturing is done.” Collaborative creation is key. Local Motors uses open online platforms to solve challenges and engineering problems. By going out to the global community, Local Motors taps into people who bring different perspectives and approaches.

Local Motors uses micro-manufacturing processes for vehicles and other products. For vehicles, that can mean shortening the development cycle from seven years to six months or less. “We get the newest technologies into vehicles faster than anyone else can,” says Haye. “Customers get the safest, smartest, most intelligent vehicles they can have.”

Local Motors has partnered with outside companies to help create their own problem-solving global communities. An urban mobility challenge issued by the city of Berlin drew a solution from someone in South America; the result was Olli, a self-driving, 3-D printed electric car made with CFRP. It is the first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson.