AeroVironment acquired Pulse Aerospace earlier this year for $25.7 million – and acquired the VAPOR Helicopter UAS series with it. At last month’s Commercial UAV Expo, DRONELIFE got to see it up close – and talk to AeroVironment about what VAPOR can do.
AeroVironment has long been an industry leader in the military space, but they are moving into enterprise – and the VAPOR series has the potential to benefit many different verticals. VAPOR 35 and VAPOR 55 are all-electric Helicopter UAS. With a high energy density lithium-polymer battery, VAPOR offers up to an hour of flight time on a single battery charge. Featuring “military grade components,” the autonomous VAPOR is designed to be “multi-mission capable” – and it has a modular payload bay that accomodates a wide variety of integrated sensors and third-party payloads (up to 10 pounds for the VAPOR 55.)
For military applications, the benefits are very clear. Jane’s 360 reports that “the Vapor-series differ primarily from other rotary-winged VTOL UASs on the market in that they both can carry a range of interchangeable payloads for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other missions, and the larger platforms has a payload-drop capability for troop-in-contact resupply, blood drops, and the like.”
In the enterprise market, the value is also excellent. Payloads include gimbaled EO/IR, survey grade PPK mapping, LiDAR and hyperspectral sensors. Matt Isenbarger, Inside Sales Manager at AeroVironment, says customers appreciate the flexibility.
“One of the great things about the Vapor is that its really customizable – it carries a payload of up to 10 pounds,” says Isenbarger. “Being able to carry whatever you want opens up a lot of industries… we have customers using it for BVLOS, linear infrastructure, you could also use this for traffic management,” he says. “It opens up a lot of opportunities.”
With Pulse Aerospace, says Isenberger, AeroVironment acquired serious talent in the space. “They are incredible engineers,” says Isenberger. “They just really understand rotary wing… they also offer modeling software, which is different for rotary wing.”
In addition to built in safety, which Isenberger says is a a big part of the system, “It’s all about ease of use,” he says.“We want it to be easy and approachable to use – this is completely automated flying.”
With automation, ease of use, and an interchangeable payload system that could potentially carry sensors or small cargo, the enterprise possibilites for the VAPOR series are almost endless. From drone delivery to security and infrastructure inspections, VAPOR is ready to move between the battlefield and the business case.
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.
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