One of the toughest questions yet to be answered in the evolving world of unmanned aviation is at what point a toy becomes a tool. For Dave Kroetsch and his partners, the answer unfolded in 2006 when they leveraged their longtime interest in radio-controlled (RC) aircraft into a foothold on what is clearly the next big thing in aviation. Now their little quadcopters do everything from mapping crime scenes to guarding the Prime Minister.
Kroetsch started building radio-controlled aircraft in 1996 while still an engineering student at the University of Waterloo (UW). He even set up an aerial robotics team to enter academic competitions. After graduating, Kroetsch missed the fun he had had building flying machines. Former teammates Michael Peasgood and Steffen Lindner felt the same way, so in 2006 they formed Aeryon Labs to perfect and commercialize a tiny helicopter and camera system. The Aeryon team understood their customers were not going to be remote control enthusiasts, but rather people trying to get a job done.
This article, in Editor & Publisher magazine, discusses how journalists and newspapers are discovering benefits for using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and the issues that need to be considered when using the technology for recording and reporting news stories.
The following is an excerpt from the article:
Safety is the primary reason why the FAA has yet to regulate and approve drones for journalists, but that slow evolution may also be attributed to a lack of legal certainty, as well, according to Dave Kroetsch, CEO of Aeryon Labs, Inc. in Ontario, Canada.
The workforce at Aeryon Labs Inc. has almost doubled in size over the last year and needed the room to grow to build its next generation of small unmanned aircraft systems.
The SkyRanger, the latest line in its fleet of aerial drones, were really taking off — no pun intended — and they needed the space to expand its operations.
It found that space at a new advanced manufacturing site at 575 Kumpf Dr. in Waterloo as company officials, employees and local dignitaries came to celebrate the grand opening of the facility last Wednesday, as the local success story gets ready for its next stage of development.
On Friday, July 11th Peak 3 Technical Services provided support and expertise to the Pan-Pacific Unmanned Aircraft Test Range Complex and University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Peak 3 was an integral part of the mission planning and concept of operations development. They also acted as Pilot in Command (PIC) for the training missions that involved the Alaska State Troopers, the Fairbanks Police Department, and the Fairbanks Fire Department at the Fairbanks Regional Fire Training Center.
The Aeryon Scout was used to support four training activities, which included a mock Police Standoff, State Trooper accident scene forensics and fire demonstrations.
The federal government selected a fast-growing technology company in Waterloo — Aeryon Labs — to announce funding Monday in support of efforts to open up new foreign markets to Canadian goods.
Erin O'Toole, parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade, and Kitchener-Waterloo MP Peter Braid were at Aeryon's facility on Kumpf Drive to announce funding of $20,000 to Unmanned Systems Canada, the association representing the unmanned vehicle industry. It is among 39 industry associations who will receive a combined total of $3 million this year.