What are your biggest goals in the field of unmanned systems over the next few years?
We continue to enhance our existing platforms, as well as command-and-control technologies, for next-generation military and nonmilitary missions. Improvements in size, weight, and power considerations have enabled incredibly sophisticated sensors and payloads to be integrated onto smaller platforms. Mission profiles previously performed by much larger aircraft are within the capabilities of more affordable systems like our Shadow M2 tactical unmanned aircraft system and Aerosonde small unmanned aircraft system. As a result, more strategic, multimission assets are available to a broader base of customers.
Another core area of advancing technology is the maritime domain. We leveraged our proven unmanned command-and-control architecture to create the Common Unmanned Surface Vessel, or CUSV, which is a mature, multimission system ideally suited for both military and commercial uses from mine hunting to port security to ocean research.
Where do you see the industry going in the next decade?
In recent years, unmanned systems are an increasingly important capability to customers outside of the U.S. Potential customers worldwide are using these systems across a vast spectrum of applications, both military and nonmilitary — reliably, efficiently and affordably.
Unmanned systems continue to be a growth area for Textron Systems, although highly competitive and moving beyond its traditional market spaces. We see continued and growing interest in unmanned systems around the world, especially as commercial interest and application grows.
What role do you see your company playing in that future?
We see significant potential in the commercial and civil area as the U.S. and Europe open airspace to unmanned aircraft over coming years. The progress made in countries like Japan and Australia is a good early indicator of the potential. With proven, mature platforms, expertise in unmanned command and control, and years of experience operating and maintaining systems, we are a trusted partner for military and nonmilitary customers alike.
What do you see as major challenges to the unmanned systems industry?
As you look at applications outside of restricted airspace, much depends on the progress of regulators worldwide, including the Federal Aviation Administration and its work to open U.S. national airspace to unmanned aircraft systems.
What makes AUVSI membership attractive to your company?
AUVSI is where thought and industry leaders in the unmanned systems domain share knowledge.