Innovation Incubator - the Bicycle Shop

Inspired by the legacy of innovation and the celebrated history of our famous founders, we formed the Curtiss-Wright Bicycle Shop, our incubator for innovation. Taking its name from the bicycle workshops where Curtiss-Wright’s founders pioneered the development of world-changing aviation and motorcycle technologies over 100 years ago, our Bicycle Shop is where the first phase of exploration of next-generation market-leading technologies happens.

The History Behind the Bicycle Shop

The immortal aviation pioneers, Wilbur and Orville Wright and Glenn Curtiss, first started on the auspicious path that led them to world-changing invention and innovation by running bicycle shops.

Ensuring Technical Maturity

Curtiss-Wright customers depend on us to ensure that new rugged system technologies have achieved the technical maturity demanded by critical aerospace and defense applications. Bicycle Shop projects provide the engineering resources and infrastructure to develop these new technologies before they are brought to market. Thanks to the depth of our technical expertise and the strength of Curtiss-Wright, we are able to test and evaluate next-generation system elements to ensure performance and product integrity before they are launched. Thanks to this approach, when we introduce new technologies they will be quickly proven to meet the demanding performance and quality requirements unique to deployed platforms.

R&D and Open Architecture Design

The Bicycle Shop’s charter goes beyond nurturing and evaluating new technologies. These technologies must also conform to key industry standards that form the foundation of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) modular open architecture system design. Curtiss-Wright is one of the leading vendors helping to define and evolve these important standards through participation in, and support of, industry consortia such as the SOSA Consortium,  VITA, and the U.S. Army’s VICTORY initiative. We are proud to serve as stewards of these open standards while exploring ways to optimize the performance and product integrity of standards-compliant system elements.

Open Standards, Yes – Commodities, No

Compliance with open standards does not mean that COTS products are commodities. While the open architecture approach does ensure commonality for electrical and physical interconnects, thus enabling a healthy technology eco-system supported by numerous COTS vendors, the products marketed by these different vendors will typically feature markedly different performance and support attributes. The often significant differentiators of these competing products can include wide variance in performance optimization, technology road-maps, and lifecycle support resources, just to name a few. The Curtiss-Wright Bicycle Shop provides the organization and infrastructure to deliver proven and trustworthy next-generation open architecture solutions to our partners.

The Bicycle Shop: Disruptive vs. Sustaining Innovation

What sort of projects will the Bicycle Shop undertake? The focus of the Bicycle Shop is on what we identify as either “Disruptive Innovation” or “Discontinuous Sustaining Innovation” opportunities. Those technology advances that represent traditional product evolution won’t qualify as Bicycle Shop projects. A Disruptive Innovation is one that helps to 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. At Curtiss-Wright, 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 sustaining innovations are those that are simply evolutionary. Discontinuous sustaining innovations, on the other hand, are those that are transformational or revolutionary: these join Disruptive Innovations as ideal Bicycle Shop projects.

Bicycle Shop Projects

While only recently introduced to the public, the Curtiss-Wright Bicycle Shop has been quietly in operation for several years. One of the first Bicycle Shop project technologies brought to market was our innovative Fabric40 40Gbs high-speed interconnect solution. Fabric40, which is fully compliant with existing VITA standards, delivers the highest speed system fabric performance to a full range of rugged modules, backplanes, and enclosures. It enables system designers to easily and rapidly integrate and deploy HPEC quality processing for the most demanding C4ISR applications. Other industry leading innovations from the Bicycle Shop include:

  • 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, network-centric, and distributed computing architectures with support for both legacy and contemporary data communications interface standards, and the development of Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF) solutions for SWaP-C sensitive platforms.

Investigating a New Technology? We Should Talk

Current Bicycle Shop projects that are already underway might be exploring those new technologies that you want to know more about. If there is a new technology that you are interested in, but don’t already see on our website, feel free to contact us. Chances are that the Bicycle Shop is already hard at work on evaluating that exact technology.

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