News & Articles

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

For a long time, excitement and potential drove the commercial drone industry in a way that could literally be calculated. Countless reports talked up the billions of dollars that commercial drone technology represented, but whether it was the $82 billion estimated by AUVSI or the $127 billion that PwC predicted, the hype associated with drones was mostly irrelevant to the actual users that wanted to adopt the technology to create value. Plenty have done just that in very defined ways over the past few years, but just as the drone industry was in the midst of fully transitioning from hype to reality, COVID-19 changed the paradigm.

As literal social distancing tools, the pandemic highlighted how drones could be utilized in ways that were never envisioned but nonetheless created real value. However, those new opportunities have been complicated by misconceptions that predate the pandemic. Additionally, the regulatory challenges with legally taking a drone into the sky that users have to sort through are just as relevant now as they were in the midst of that hype cycle. What has this evolution of the commercial drone industry meant to the people that are working to define the value of the technology in the present and future?

That very topic is a focus of numerous conference sessions at the upcoming Commercial UAV Expo, where professionals from across the space will come together for what is now recognized as the world's largest show for professionals integrating commercial drone technology. In preparation of the event, we connected with numerous experts across the space to capture their insights around how expectations associated with the technology will impact the market in the short and long term.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

“This flight was specifically designed to hit some high-value science targets, to demonstrate, basically, aerial imaging of science sites.” Ben Pipenberg, senior aeromechanical engineer at AeroVironment, was explaining. “That was kind of the first time we’ve really done that in a targeted way, so this was a much more complicated flight.”

Pipenberg was extolling Mars Helicopter Ingenuity’s 10th foray since it first lifted off from the Red Planet’s surface back in April. Flight 10 was something of a watershed; it saw the little vehicle Pipenberg and his team had birthed in concert with NASA/JPL and other leading-edge firms pass the mile marker on distance flown while ranging further and further afield from its mid-February arrival on Mars in the belly of the Perseverance land rover.

Pippen laughed after hearing Ingenuity’s various destinations described as “a cruise ship on Mars.” Flight 10 came on July 24th, after a hoped-for initial set of five technology trips had been extended to operational demonstrations and journeys to other “airfields.” The 10th trip initiated what might be called an investigatory phase, setting an altitude record (40 feet) and visiting 10 waypoints en route to a rock formation called “Raised Ridges.” The color photos and 3D images it collected will inform Perseverance’s up-close exploration of the outcrop, in part to seek evidence for a watery past on Mars. That’s already begun: an 11th flight, on August 5th, positioned Ingenuity as a scout to support Perseverance’s work.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • Enables third-party payload manufacturers, as well as U.S. DoD and international partners, to develop and integrate payloads onto RQ-20B Puma
  • Utilizes the Modular Payload Standard initiated by USSOCOM to create a modular architectural standard for payloads on unmanned aircraft systems Groups 1 through 3

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 4, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced the introduction of its standardized modular payload interface kits for RQ-20B Puma™ tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • United States Air Force to equip its Security Forces with Puma 3 AE systems; support existing fleet of Raven systems with spares packages
  • AeroVironment’s family of tactical UAS allows customers to use the same ground control station and software for multiple UAS for added simplicity and efficiency

ARLINGTON, Va., July 22, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced receipt of two firm-fixed-price orders totaling $15,940,378 from the United States Air Force. The orders, received on April 19, 2021 and May 6, 2021, encompass the procurement of Puma™ 3 AE unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and spares packages, as well as Raven® UAS spares packages. The Puma 3 AE systems and spares were delivered on April 30, 2021. Delivery of the Raven spares is anticipated by November 2021.

“The combat-proven Puma 3 AE and Raven are versatile, rugged and reliable tactical unmanned aircraft systems designed to provide the United States Air Force Security Forces with the enhanced situational awareness and mission effectiveness they require when safeguarding bases,” said Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for small UAS.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • First award for satellite communications-enabled beyond line of sight (BLOS) on competitive Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MEUAS) IV program
  • AeroVironment receives task order to provide ISR services at additional customer location
  • AeroVironment JUMP 20 is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), fixed-wing unmanned aircraft that AeroVironment uses to provide advanced multi-sensor intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services

ARLINGTON, Va., July 13, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced it was awarded a competitive task order valued at approximately $22 million on May 21, 2021 from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for ISR services using JUMP® 20 medium unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at an undisclosed customer location. The ISR services include the first SATCOM-enabled unmanned aircraft system for beyond line of sight operations as part of the existing Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) MEUAS IV contract. The task order specifies a 12-month period of performance and multiple follow-on option years for ISR services.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

It has been a week of heightened apprehension on the Mars Helicopter team as we prepared a major flight challenge for Ingenuity. We uplinked instructions for the flight, which occurred Monday, July 5 at 2:03 am PT, and waited nervously for results to arrive from Mars later that morning. The mood in the ground control room was jubilant when we learned that Ingenuity was alive and well after completing a journey spanning 2,051 feet (625 meters) of challenging terrain.

Flight 9 was not like the flights that came before it. It broke our records for flight duration and cruise speed, and it nearly quadrupled the distance flown between two airfields. But what really set the flight apart was the terrain that Ingenuity had to negotiate during its 2 minutes and 46 seconds in the air – an area called “Séítah” that would be difficult to traverse with a ground vehicle like the Perseverance rover. This flight was also explicitly designed to have science value by providing the first close view of major science targets that the rover will not reach for quite some time.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

The Séítah region on Mars, filled with rocks and sand dunes, was too treacherous for NASA’s Perseverance rover to drive across. So Ingenuity, the tiny helicopter accompanying the rover, flew over the area on Monday and snapped some photos of a key spot on the other side. In less than three minutes, Ingenuity spared Perseverance the months it would have had to spend driving to take its own photos.

The quick Monday morning jump across Séítah was Ingenuity’s ninth flight on Mars so far, but it marked the first time the chopper lent a helping hand to Perseverance in its hunt for ancient signs of life at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater. The four-pound helicopter arrived on Mars on February 14th, attached to Perseverance’s underside, and became the first object to take powered flight on another world on April 19th. Its initial set of flights served as increasingly complex practice tests to demonstrate how off-world rotorcraft can buzz around places that wheeled rovers can’t go.

But on Monday, NASA engineers pushed Ingenuity’s limits further than ever. In 166 seconds, Ingenuity flew roughly 11mph for almost a half-mile, or 2,050 feet — a far greater distance than its most recent flight in June, which tallied 525 feet. The copter buzzed around different corners of Séítah and snapped photos of its borders, where junctures between different rock formations — called contacts, in geology lingo — make for some of the most scientifically intriguing targets in Perseverance’s hunt for fossilized microbial life. 

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

Inside The Ingenuity Helicopter: Teamwork on Mars

July 08, 2021 (AV in the News)

April 19th saw what some have christened “a second Wright Brothers moment”—namely, the successful first powered controlled flight by an aircraft on another world. Reaching Mars on the underside of the Perseverance rover, the tiny, autonomous Mars Ingenuity Helicopter (5.4" x 7.7" x 6.4") spun its 4-foot rotors and hovered 10 feet off the ground for 30 seconds. By its third flight, a few days later, Ingenuity would rise 16 feet (5 meters) up, and fly 164 feet (50 meters) at a top speed of 6.6 ft/sec (2 m/sec). Back in 1903, the Wright Brothers logged 120 feet to complete the first controlled heavier-than-air powered flight. Now, squaring that circle, Ingenuity carries a piece of fab-ric from the Wright Flyer’s wing, and its flight site is called Wright Brothers Field.

Six weeks and six flights into its mission as we write, Ingenuity has demonstrated the ability to fly on a planet more than 170 million miles from earth in an atmosphere 1% as thick as ours. The near-miniature ve-hicle has proved to be an intrepid explorer even as it’s survived a computer anomaly on its most recent mission. Talk about punching above your weight.


Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • Provides a standardized user experience (UX) across multiple air vehicles, communication platforms and end-user devices for streamlined operation and deployment
  • Improves battlefield communication and collaboration by enabling users to easily share real-time information and coordinate mission-critical decisions
  • Builds upon AeroVironment’s legacy ground control system (GCS) and adapts to today’s network-centric battlefield environment

ARLINGTON, Va. July 7, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today introduced Crysalis™, the company’s next-generation ground control solution. Crysalis is an integrated hardware and software-based ground control system (GCS) that provides command and control of compatible AeroVironment unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and their payloads, through an intuitive user experience (UX).

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

According to information released by the British Navy on June 24, 2021, Puma drone has been used by the British Navy to support HMS Albion amphibious transport dock and Royal Marines of 45 Commando as part of the Littoral Response Group (North) deployment to the North and Baltic Seas, including during their participation in the large-scale Baltops exercises alongside militaries from 17 other nations.

The RQ-20 Puma is a small, electrically powered, American, hand-launched unmanned aircraft system produced by the American company AeroVironment based in California. The Puma AE can operate under extreme weather conditions including temperatures ranging from −20 to 120 °F (−29 to 49 °C), wind speeds up to 25 knots (29 mph; 46 km/h), and an inch of rain per hour.

The Puma is just over 1.35 m long, with a wingspan of 2.75 m. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 500ft and has a maximum speed of 83km/h and range of 15km. The flight endurance of the UAS is two hours.

The payload of the Puma includes an electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR) camera, and IR Illuminator. It can be used to conduct reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions over sea or land. The drone can monitor an area larger than the size of Greater Manchester during its flights, feeding back real-time footage to help sailors and Royal Marines make accurate tactical decisions.

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