Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2019

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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20  June/July 2019 unmanned systems inside Photo courtesy of AeroVironment. THE CHALLENGES Cost is one challenge, but there are others. One is that ma ny commercia l customers c a n get what they need with smaller UAS that weigh 55 pounds or less—and DJI continues to dominate there, Finnegan said. Most military systems are much larger and, of course, more expensive. Also, defense clients and commercial UAS cli- ents have ver y different business models, said Dave Duggan, precision engagement systems sec- tor president for L3 Technologies, a New York- based defense company that is looking into the benefits of entering the commercial UAS space. One of the biggest differences is the risk perspec- tive, Duggan said. The government has a regulated contracting process where the balance of risk between government and contractor is very well known. Both sides understand how to negotiate and everything fol- lows well-understood government acquisition regula- tions. Not so in the commercial world. "A commercial customer might be willing to initi- ate a contract by sending an email or telling the com- pany to start work," Duggan said. "How they manage liability and risk and financing, all those things, is just a different model and way of thinking. It's not bad, it's a great model, but for companies that mea- sure their risk profiles based on the government con- tracting process it can make your head hurt because you're approaching things in such a different way." There's also the fact the commercial space is so new, said Dave K roetsch, v ice president of UAS technology for FLIR Systems and founder of Aeryon Labs, of Waterloo, Ontario, which FLIR recently acquired. There aren't really any estab- lished rules or requirements just yet and many business leaders interested in UAS are just start- ing to learn about the benefits the technology can bring. The military has a more tightly integrated group of customers than the enterprise space, which is made up of many smaller organizations that buy differently, need different things and have different expectations. In the military, the main objectives are saving lives and ensuring mission success, and the risk and "Defense companies are used to providing the highest level of performance without concerns about cost. The commercial market is diff erent. It's very heavily focused on cost." Philip Finnegan, director of corporate analysis, Teal Group WHY HALE SYSTEMS ARE A GOOD FIT FOR DEFENSE COMPANIES Many defense companies, such as Airbus, BAE, Aurora Flight Sciences and AeroVironment, are DEVELOPING HIGH ALTITUDE, LONG ENDURANCE (HALE) SYSTEMS, ALSO KNOWN AS HIGH ALTITUDE PLATFORM STATIONS (HAPS), Teal Group's Director of Corporate Analysis Philip Finnegan said. This is potentially a VALUE MARKET NICHE for these companies, he said. These systems can be used for low-cost, persistent surveillance for military clients and homeland security applications, as well as for providing Internet services to locations across the world that don't have it. "THIS IS THE AREA THAT DEFENSE COMPANIES EXCEL IN," Finnegan said. "It's high technology, it's large systems and it's selling a lot of systems to a limited number of buyers." AEROVIRONMENT, TOGETHER WITH SOFTBANK CORP, a mobile telecom provider in Japan, formed the HAPSMobile joint venture to Develop A Large, Solar-Powered UAS that will deliver telecommunications networks and other types of connectivity from the sky to the ground. It has the potential to deliver connectivity to the 3.7 billion people who don't have access to communication, said Steve Gitlin, vice president and chief marketing offi cer. THE PLATFORM, CALLED HAWK 30, IS 260 FEET LONG, WITH SOLAR PANELS COVERING THE SURFACE OF ITS WINGS. It has 10 electric motors and is designed to take off from a runway, fl y at an altitude of 65,000 feet and remain airborne for up to months at a time, acting like a cell tower in the sky—but with a much larger coverage area than traditional terrestrial cell towers. The Hawk 30 from AeroVironment DEFENSE COMMERCIAL NEXUS Trends

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