As the two longest wars in American history come to a close, and defense spending decelerates, defense contractors are quickly devising ways to alter their war-time technology for commercial and civilian use.
One technology that is already taking flight is unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones. UAVs have been a crucial asset in in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and they will soon be keeping a bird’s eye view of things here at home. In February, President Obama signed a reauthorization bill directing the Federal Aviation Administration to write rules opening the national air space to UAVs by 2015.
This reauthorization bill specifically directs the FAA to “allow a government public safety agency to operate unmanned aircraft weighing 4.4 pounds or less.”
This is good news for AeroVironment, maker of the Raven , one of the smallest portable, hand-launched, unmanned aircraft systems in the market today. AeroVironment is already an established drone-making powerhouse, supplying more than 6,000 of the 7,000-plus drones purchased by the Department of Defense over the past 10 years.
The Raven, designed for rapid deployment and low-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, looks almost like a toy airplane. In fact, the 4.2 pound drone is launched by pushing the propeller and then throwing it into the air.Page 1 of 3 | Next Page