Leading military and commercial drone company AeroVironment, Inc. announced a new product today – as The Drone Girl Sally French, writing for MarketWatch, points out that the company’s stock has doubled in the last year.
The new product is long-range tracking antenna (LRTA) for its Puma™ AE unmanned aircraft system. “The critical upgrade extends the range of Puma systems equipped with AeroVironment’s secure Digital Data Link (DDL™) technology to approximately 60 kilometers (37.28 miles), significantly boosting Puma AE’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and enhancing warfighter safety,” says the announcement.
While the PUMA is focused on the military market, AeroVironment is one of the drone manufacturers actively moving into the commercial space. The company offers some products designed specifically for military personnel in the field – but many translate well into the industrial enterprise, and the company has expanded into other verticals, including agriculture. Steve Gitlin, AeroVironment’s VP Corporate Strategy, Communications and Investor Relations told DRONELIFE in an interview last spring that the company is a technology company. “When we first developed the hand-launched UAV for reconnaissance in 1986, we knew that this could be used across a broad range of industries,” says Gitlin. “We also knew that the government would be the most likely early adopter.”
AeroVironment’s military customer base spans the globe, and their commercial presence is becoming a significant force in the industry. In the last year, the company has been in the press almost continuously – both for new military based solutions and for research in agriculture and power line inspections. Investors seem optimistic that enthusiasm and growth will continue: shares, reports French, are “up 81% this year and 102% in the past 12 months. That was boosted by a 9% rally after AeroVironment reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings last month.” A number of factors are contributing to AeroVironment’s success: new products, military demand, and a strong entrance into the commercial market. That is their advantage: having both a military and commercial market to tap may provide the perfect accelerator for AeroVironment.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.