What are your biggest goals in the field of unmanned systems over the next few years?
Traditionally, Griffon has operated our products for our customers. Increasingly we are providing UAV systems to customers intending to self operate. This requires our products, manuals, system reliability and training to move to another level. Even small deficiencies can result in dissatisfied customers. So rather than focusing on our next-generation products, we are committed to maturing our existing product line. We will also continue to make inroads into foreign markets with our systems.
Where do you see the industry going in the next decade?
I expect the Federal Aviation Administration will release guidelines for the use of smaller UAVs for agriculture, real estate and sporting markets. It will be tough for a small business to compete against these essentially disposable video/data collection vehicles. But there will be a market for larger vehicles with demonstrated reliability at an affordable price point. I don't envision our 250-pound class UAV routinely operating in the NAS for quite a while.
What role do you see your company playing in that future?
Much like the early days of the automobile industry, reliability at an excellent price point will allow some players to rise to higher volume sales opportunities, which allows bending the price curve down. There will always be a niche for products at the high performance/dollar price point. But, the number of those customers will decrease as much lower cost systems offer minor performance disadvantages.
What do you see as major challenges to the unmanned systems industry?
With the expectation of smothering regulations and few customers with military budgets, how will the commercial UAV industry be financially sustainable?
What makes AUVSI membership attractive to your company?
It is the tip of the spear representing our business. A small UAV business cannot afford dedicating lobbying or regulatory representation. AUVSI and the annual show is glue binding the private UAV industry together. The annual event and the monthly publication showcases the progress and latest technology of the industry. It is to the unmanned industry what ESPN is to sports.