In our second blog post we'll take a closer look at the sUAS technology transfer currently underway from military to public safety and civilian applications!
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Militaries have been quick to embrace the emergence of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) technology, and in particular small (s)UAS such as the Aeryon Scout. Both the rank and file are recognizing unique benefits of sUAS such as the ability to assist soldiers by seeing over the next hill in tactical engagements, gathering advanced Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR), or protecting infrastructure and personnel in compounds and vehicle convoys. Unlike satellites or even larger manned and unmanned aircraft, sUAS provide an immediate close-to-ground aerial perspective that is directly controlled by the soldier, delivering live imagery to the operator as well as other ground forces or remote command.
Some features of the Aeryon Scout have made a direct crossover from the front line to the bottom line. For example, Aeryon's FollowMe™ technology was originally developed for military convoy protection (check out this video to see FollowMe™ in action), but it has also captured the attention of government agencies responsible for VIP security, and in commercial organizations has gained interest for jobs such as pipeline or electrical infrastructure inspection and interference assessments.
Similarly, many of the key requirements for military customers have proven to be very important for law, fire, or emergency management agencies, as well as commercial clients with time-sensitive deadlines and budgets...
sUAS Military Technology & Applications
For soldiers on the front line, having an immediately deployable eye-in-the-sky can mean the difference between life-and-death - as such the ability for a single soldier to easily carry the system, as well as assemble and deploy it in seconds without the aid of tools, are critical requirements. These systems must also perform flawlessly in any environment or weather so ruggedization and weather sealing are necessary for dealing with dust, snow, rain, and extreme temperature ranges - as is uncompromised flight performance in high winds and at high altitudes.
Aeryon Scout High Altitude Testing
Precision imaging is also essential - requiring fixed hover observation (a capability limited to Vertical Take-Off and Landing or VTOL systems) and independent vehicle and camera stabilization (for more on this topic check out the Photo3S™ page which talks about the importance of 3-axis payload stabilization).
What else? In addition to system performance, militaries also prefer to adopt technologies with a low training burden - IE systems must be easily trainable so they can be deployed broadly at minimal training cost and operational overhead. This has been a limitation of some early deployed sUAS which require specialized pilot training in remote-control (RC) joystick flight controls, and lack Scout's automated features and failsafes such as automatically returning home and landing on low battery or lost communication. Ease-of-use has been a core philosophy of the Aeryon Labs team since the company's founding, and is the reason the Aeryon Scout system uses point-and-click touchscreen controls and autonomous capabilities rather than joysticks.
As a real-world example, many of these capabilities were illustrated when the Libyan rebels used the Aeryon Scout to acquire intelligence on enemy positions which allowed them to coordinate resistance efforts and their tactical advance into Tripoli. You can find out more by checking out the Libya video and image gallery.
Soldiers aren't the only users concerned with fly anywhere, anytime performance - and the ability for anyone to fly with only a few minutes of training...
sUAS Public Safety and Industrial Technology & Applications
Law, Fire, and Emergency Management personnel are first-on-scene at critical incidents on a daily basis. Emergencies don't happen on bright, calm sunny days - these users need a system that can be immediately deployed and perform reliably when emergencies occur, and seconds really count. Any first-on-scene responder requires access to a system that easily fits in the trunk of a police car that they can operate at a moments notice and without extensive training - rather than relying on a limited set of sUAS expert pilots. With many on-scene responsibilities, it is critical that operators are able to focus on the task-at-hand, without worrying about the burden of flying against sudden gusts of wind, or attempting to manually recover from a system error. Aeryon’s entirely touch screen interface and autonomous features allow any personell to produce expert aerial intelligence within minutes, even under adverse weather conditions.
With the exception of a profit incentive, there are similar drivers for a broad range of commercial industries seeking to improve project speed, accuracy, safety, and lower costs by gathering aerial imagery using sUAS instead of traditional alternatives ranging from ground crews, helicopters and planes, or satellites. Enterprise customers require a system that is capable of reliable high frequency operation at any remote location (including travel by plane) and produces reliable results - it must also be multi-purpose so it can be deployed by multiple users in different organizations (for example, site security, survey crews, etc). These capabilities drive revenue at the top line - and minimizing line items such as specialist RC training, or project delays due to weather protect the bottom line.