Unmanned systems show was buzzing
Posted by John McHale
What a difference a year makes. Last year's Unmanned Systems North America show in San Diego was informative and well attended but seemed to be reflecting some of that Southern California June gloom. This year it was just the opposite with packed stands and busy aisles.
Maybe it's the fact that it is in Washington where unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs)
, and unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs)
attract more government and definitely more local press.
Highlights at the event include General Atomics discussing the new Predator C Avenger
, iRobot officials announcing more orders for the Packbot unmanned ground system, and Insitu's ScanEagle
surpassing 200,000 operational flight hours.
"In a year when people are wondering where the funding will come from funding for unmanned systems is one are that is definitely going up," one defense electronics supplier told me.
Every exhibitor I've talked to says traffic is strong and people are looking to spend money for autonomous programs.
Lots of non-traditional defense companies are also angling for a piece of the action. Sony, the maker of popular camcorders and televisions and monitors had a nice sized booth at the show.
No they weren't pushing flat screens, but rather they were showcasing their machine vision line of high-performance cameras for use on UAVs.
It's a market "we're exploring that has a potential for growth," says Drew Buttress, product manager for visual imaging products at Sony. He says Sony understands the military market and its long life cycles and that Sony supports its machine vision products for the long-term, still selling cameras that are nearly 10 years old.
It's heartening to go to a crowded trade show in a tough economic time. Maybe it's sign things are turning around.