AeroVironment Launches Unmanned Aircraft For Domestic Use

Think unmanned drones are just something you'd see in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan? There may soon be unmanned aircraft hovering over your own town. Monrovia-based Aerovironment said Thursday that it has launched a new, small unmanned aircraft system aimed specifically at law enforcement and first responders here in the United States. Aerovironment said it has opened up evaluations of its new Qube portable unmanned aircraft system, aimed at public safety applications, to provide the same kind of surveillance capabilities it provides for military battlefield operations to public agencies here in the United States. Aerovironment said it has begun a trial and evaluation program for public safety agencies interested in its new Qube unmanned aircraft system, to assist with threat assessment, situational awareness, search and rescue, perimeter security and a variety of other missions.

Until recently, the Federal Aviation Administration had only been studying the used of unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace; the FAA is now expected to release a proposed rule governing small unmanned aircraft systems such as Aerovironment's products in civilian airspace in December. The initial rules look to be favorable for Aerovironment, as the proposal currently restricts UAS systems above 55 pounds and below 700 feet. Aerovironment's aircraft currently are well under those restrictions. Aerovironment's Qube only weighs 5.5 lbs, and are typically used in low elevation flight.