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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24  June/July 2019 unmanned systems inside Photos courtesy of Altavian and Airbus. is very well established and rigid in its process to buy things." COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES Yes, there are challenges defense companies must overcome to find success in the commercial world, but their backgrounds also give them many advan- tages that newer commercial-only companies just don't have. One is the analytical capabilities that enable them to understand aeronautical safety and reli- ability, Finnegan said. Many of these companies have a long-term background in UAS technology, and a financial well to pull from when designing new solutions or updating legacy products for use in commercial markets. They also have experience in aviation and know how to operate these systems. "It's a matter of [defense] companies wrapping their heads around the commercial business model and fi nding a way to provide a commercial service, a commercial model, that's competitive. That will continue to take time. But the size of the market is undeniable." Dave Duggan, precision engagement systems sector president, L3 Technologies COMMERCIAL GOES DEFENSE MILITARIES ARE ALSO LOOKING TO COMMERCIAL COMPANIES for new UAS solutions, CEO and Founder of Altavian John Perry said. Altavian recently won a contract to fi eld a small, capable quadcopter for the U.S. Army. THE SHORT RANGE RECONNAISSANCE PROTOTYPE (SRR) will weigh less than 5 pounds and be fl own by a single operator. The SRR program is intended to augment the existing fl eet of small UAS currently deployed by the Army in short range and urban environments. "The solicitation is being driven by commercial off -the-shelf vendors," Perry said. "The Army recognized the value of not only the traditional defense contractors but innovators like Altavian that see where those dual- use capabilities are coming from. THIS WAS VERY MUCH DRIVEN BY A COMMERCIAL INNOVATION STRATEGY.Ó John Perry, founder and CEO of Altavian, in Gainesville, Florida, looks at the modular products his company develops as having dual use, making it seamless to take them from military applications to civil or commercial ones. For example, a solution developed for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was almost immediately used for civil applications such as levee inspection and wetland monitoring. So, in some cases, it's easy to see the crossover between the military, commercial and civil worlds early on, and that's exactly what Altavian looks for. "The military's approach to the technology is requirements-driven. What we typically see is the military has such a broad mission scope, there tends to be an overlap with commercial applications," Perry said. "It's more about finding that product's market fit and transitioning the technology from defense to commercial or vice versa. I really believe it goes in both directions." FLIR thermal imaging cameras are used for a variety of applications in both military and com- mercial markets, said Dave Kroetsch, vice presi- dent of UAS technology for FLIR. In some cases, the same technology that's used in military applications might also find its way into the commercial space. A sensor that's used for search and rescue (SAR) missions in the military might also be used on a po- lice SAR helicopter, for example. But others are too large and expensive for the commercial world, and require a lower cost and smaller footprint to work on commercial systems. "We're seeing a miniaturization of those tech- nologies and a cost reduction to get into the com- mercial space," Kroetsch added. "We've seen that with radar and LiDAR companies. The good news is this is beneficial for many markets because there's overlap. The same LiDAR someone is building for the self-driving car market might be applicable for mapping missions on UAS. So there are economies of scale there." Companies like Fort Worth-headquartered Bell Helicopter, which is part of Textron, are com- mercializing military lessons, said Brian Duncan, SRR from Altavian For more on companies working to develop air taxis, read Urban Air Mobility: Catching a Very Local Flight at EXCLUSIVE DEFENSE COMMERCIAL NEXUS Trends

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