What do you see as a major challenge to the unmanned systems industry?
A large challenge that will be faced by the unmanned aerial systems industry domestically will be the lack of knowledge of Federal Aviation Administration regulations governing the national airspace by civil and public users. As a UAS producer, we know it is important to help our current and potential customers understand the rules and certifications mandated by the FAA and to assist them with the process of becoming compliant. Unfortunately most people erroneously believe that UAS will be able to fly with little restrictions, like a hobby RC plane. Providing individuals in the domestic civilian market with accurate information and rules regarding UAS flight in the national airspace will help keep our skies safe for all.
Another challenge we face in the UAS industry is public concerns over privacy. This is being debated by people in the highest levels of our government, by consumer advocates as well as among local farmers worried about their land. Although there are many beneficial uses of UAS, some people fear their use will be an invasion of personal privacy. It will be a difficult but necessary task for the UAS industry to educate the public on the rigorous process and standards that must be met in order to gain an experimental certificate or Certificate of Authorization and other restrictions currently in place. The public must understand that only certain government entities or civil organizations with legitimate intent will be allowed to fly these systems after a lengthy approval process designed to protect citizens’ privacy. Nevertheless, current privacy laws have not kept up with technology and must be updated to address growing public concerns adequately.
Sense and avoid is an additional challenge faced by all UAS providers. The industry must come up with a consistent, reliable and cost-effective resolution. The ability for manned and unmanned aircraft to safely share the national airspace is critical to the future of UAS.
What does your development and growth strategy look like in the coming years for your robotics/unmanned systems sector?
This is an exciting time at UAV Solutions (UAV-S). We are implementing a massive expansion of our marketing and growth strategy. We have been quite successful over the past six years, but believe there is more to be accomplished. We intend to serve new military clients so they too can benefit from our previous DOD experiences and skills. We are also making investments in R&D in preparation for serving the domestic market especially in law enforcement and homeland security.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the field of unmanned systems in the last few years?
Our biggest accomplishments have been in the acceleration of our rapid, innovative design and manufacturing capabilities to meet the growing needs of our military clients. We recently expanded our facilities to nearly 60,000 square feet and have invested in state-of-the-art technologies. We became ISO 9001:2008 certified, verifying to our customers that our quality assurance and manufacturing processes are superior. We also have expanded our professional staff to ensure we continue to exceed our customers’ expectations as we grow.
Where do you see the industry going as a whole in the next decade?
Over the next decade, you will start to see a presence of UAS in our national airspace, ranging from smaller to larger sized platforms. The FAA will continue to improve its documentation, making operation of these systems as safe as possible for both operators and those sharing the airspace. You will also see modifications of some of the current regulations and rules that the FAA mandates for UAS use, as the FAA gains additional intelligence from agencies currently certified to fly UAS in the NAS. These pioneers will help streamline the process for those in the future who will demonstrate a need for domestically flown UAS. There will also be an increased demand for automated, highly reliable sense-and-avoid technologies to be mandatory on all UAS. This technology is crucial for the safety of our skies and is a top priority for some companies to continue to modify and improve. The resolution of these issues will open up opportunities in multiple private sector industries across the country.
How do you see your business transitioning to the commercial sector as the unmanned systems and robotics industry moves in that direction?
We are uniquely positioned to be a producer and service provider of these systems in the under 25-pound category. We are committed to educating potential users and to making the process of flying UAS in the NAS easier and safe.