Bicycle Shop furnishes technology incubator

Inspired by the legacy of innovation and celebrated history of its famous founders, the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions has formed the Curtiss-Wright Bicycle Shop, an internal incubator for first-phase exploration of next-generation market-leading technologies.

Named for the historic bicycle shops where the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss first launched many of their legendary inventions, the Bicycle Shop provides the resources for evaluating and proving new embedded defense and aerospace technologies before they are brought to market. For these projects, the Bicycle Shop’s resources can enable rapid, focused development and analysis to ensure that new rugged system technologies have achieved the technical maturity and deliver the product integrity demanded by critical applications. The Bicycle Shop provides the organization and infrastructure to deliver proven and trustworthy next-generation Open Architecture solutions to our customers and partners.

Modeled on renowned research and development centers such as Skunk Works, Lockheed Martin’s center for Advanced Development Programs, the Bicycle Shop serves as Defense Solutions’ incubator and laboratory for the exploration of next-generation market-leading technologies.

A far-reaching charter

The Bicycle Shop’s research and development charter goes far beyond nurturing and evaluating new technologies. These technologies must also conform to key industry standards that form the foundation of COTS Open Architecture system design. Curtiss-Wright is helping define and evolve these important standards through participation and support of industry consortia such as VITA and the U.S. Army’s VICTORY initiative. The Bicycle Shop serves as stewards of these open standards while exploring ways to optimize the performance and product integrity of open standard-compliant system elements.

Disruptive vs. sustaining innovation

The focus of the Bicycle Shop will be on what we identify as either “disruptive innovation” or “discontinuous sustaining innovation.” Those technology advances that represent traditional product evolution won’t qualify as Bicycle Shop projects. A disruptive innovation is one that helps create a new market and value network. This type of innovation will eventually disrupt an existing market and value network and displace an earlier incumbent technology. We also recognize two types of sustaining innovations, continuous and discontinuous. A sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks. Instead, it evolves the existing status quo with better value, which enables COTS vendors to compete against each other’s sustaining improvements. Continuous innovations are those that are simply evolutionary. Discontinuous innovations, those that are transformational or revolutionary, join disruptive innovations as ideal Bicycle Shop projects.

Projects in progress

While now being announced to the market for the first time, the Bicycle Shop was initiated internally as a stealth project more than two years ago. Its inaugural efforts have already borne fruit. For example, one of the first Bicycle Shop project technologies brought to market was Curtiss-Wright’s Fabric40 10 Gbps backplane and interconnect solution. Fabric40, fully compliant with existing VITA standards, delivers the highest-speed system fabric performance to a full range of rugged modules, backplanes, and enclosures, enabling system designers to easily and rapidly integrate and deploy HPEC super computer-quality processing for the most demanding C4ISR applications.

Examples of current and ongoing Bicycle Shop projects include:

  • Module-based fluid flow-through cooling
  • Direct digital manufacturing to cost-effectively leverage and integrate 3D printing into the manufacturing process
  • Network bridging technologies to enhance VICTORY and network-centric computing with support for both legacy and contemporary data communications interface standards and the development of ultra small form factor solutions for SWaP-C sensitive platforms.

Investigating a new technology?

The Bicycle Shop ensures that new technologies are evaluated and demonstrated before they are included in product development. This reduces development and schedule risk for our customers and removes the burden that might be placed on them by vendors with less deep resources who provide them with new, but unverified, next-generation technologies.

Customers are welcome to suggest new technologies for the Bicycle Shop to consider investigating. This provides us with valuable market input for new areas to explore, though in some cases we will already be working on that particular technology. Bicycle Shop projects enable customers to leverage our efforts and perhaps reduce their own, while working to ensure that their solutions are mature before going to market.

Vendors are encouraged to check out to suggest or inquire about current or potential projects. We are also interested in pursuing joint Bicycle Shop projects with our customers; a bicycle built for two.