- What do you see as a major challenge to the unmanned systems industry?
A major challenge facing the unmanned systems industry is access to the National Airspace System as deployed unmanned systems return to the continental U.S. However, there are considerations that must be addressed. These include provisions for a viable and affordable sense and avoid solution; effective airspace control for safe UAS operations; a national airspace integration policy; and comprehensive policies, standards, and procedures for safe operations between manned and unmanned aviation assets.
- What does your development and growth strategy look like in the coming years for your robotics/unmanned systems sector?
We plan to concentrate on key issues such as airspace access, remote split operations and intelligence, acquisition effectiveness and efficiency, standardization of operating systems and communications schema, systems interoperability, and a common UAS ground control system, to name a few.
- What has been your biggest accomplishment in the field of unmanned systems in the last few years?
There are several big accomplishments that include support of the warfighter in the areas of unique UAS systems to solve specific classified problems and provide unique intelligence collection systems, development of the first remote split operations system usable in combat operations, development of a remotely piloted aircraft architecture that is being adopted as the U.S. Air Force standard, and development of UAS centers of excellence to solve upcoming problems.
- Where do you see the industry going as a whole in the next decade?
Recently passed legislation that opens up the skies to military, commercial, and privately owned unmanned drones and the setting of a deadline for Federal Aviation Administration compliance of September 2015 will open the airspace to a new set of commercial applications. This process will start in the government’s non-Department of Defense area and move toward the commercial applications of UAS such as global cargo carriage onboard UAS or commercial aircraft adapted for UAS flight. In addition, DOD applications will level off due to extreme budget constraints and international UAS growth will increase and provide capability obtainable by some nations until recently.
- How do you see your business transitioning to the commercial sector as the unmanned systems and robotics industry moves in that direction?
I see us transitioning to the commercial sector by supporting the UAS ground support enterprise, unique UAS applications and the growing need to provide increased amounts of information. In addition, I see us helping the FAA come up with a plan to provide access to the National Airspace System.
- How has AUVSI membership helped your company?
Membership has helped Leidos work with the United States Congress to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System. Additionally, AUVSI has worked as an industry advocate on behalf of the UAS industry.