What do you see as a major challenge to the unmanned systems industry?
The road ahead will be a challenge on many fronts. Even though technology advances have meant the reality of unmanned vehicles is now closer than ever, aspects such as export controls, government regulations, potential misuse and media manipulation of public perception and fears will remain the real challenge for manufacturers and researchers in this field.
What does your development and growth strategy look like in the coming years for your robotics/unmanned systems sector?
iXBlue has been heavily involved in unmanned systems in the marine environment, with particular focus on allowing these systems to navigate in areas that do not have full time access to GPS. We have also been involved in the mining industry, which ha similar environmental restrictions on GPS access. In the more recent years we have also been working with the air side of unmanned systems, which has seen us develop a new smaller navigation system, reducing weight, power and noise to help the industry achieve some of the more challenging aspects of design.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the field of unmanned systems in the last few years?
[ixBlue’s biggest accomplishment has been] the number of AUV companies we work with, and the number of AUV systems that have our navigation and tracking solutions onboard. At this point we have in excess of 130 unmanned underwater systems, from almost all manufacturers, fitted with our navigation equipment. In the US we have also managed to win business in highly competitive arena’s due to our focus on integrating multiple aiding sources, rather than relying on GPS as the primary input.
Where do you see the industry going as a whole in the next decade?
We envision smart systems that reduce risk for governments, companies and field operators. Systems that are able to navigate through tough environments, make independent decisions and are designed to operate for extended periods. We also believe that, as with robotics in industry, we will see more systems in everyday life monitoring all aspects of our life and integrating into society until they are so common that they move and work obsequiously.
How do you see your business transitioning to the commercial sector as the unmanned systems and robotics industry moves in that direction?
We supply systems to the manufacturers of end systems and their customers. Our business will grow as the industry grows by providing reliable, high quality systems and service, development of solutions catering to the markets we service and to partnerships with agencies and manufactures interested in advancing the unmanned and robotic sector.
How has AUVSI membership helped your company?
Ongoing exposure to companies and end users allows iXBlue to grow in this sector and the various regions we operate in.