What Defines Success for Drone Missions in Space?
Both pilots and companies are navigating a thin line between security and innovation. Host Grant Guillot talks with leaders, influencers, and experts across the drone industry to guide us through the complex web of technology and policy in the United States.
Drone use cases continue to evolve as they become vital tools to support various missions and needs. So, it’s no surprise that their next frontier is space. Discussing the drone technology for this application, Drones in America host Grant Guillot welcomed Steve Gitlin, CMO of AeroVironment. The company offers a portfolio of intelligent multi-domain robotic systems and recently added to its solutions with the acquisition of Telerob. This addition, Gitlin said, “expands the portfolio and helps the organization meet diverse mission requirements from customers.”
With a history of disruption in the industry, AeroVironment has been a pioneer in aeronautics, leading to their involvement in space exploration. “We’ve been developing technology for decades that allows unmanned aircraft systems to dwell in the stratosphere for months, using HAPS, or high-altitude platform systems,” Gitlin explained.
“This opens up new opportunities for scientific experiments with planets or bodies with an atmosphere. It also has advantages over the rovers on the ground, which are slow. The Ingenuity can cover ground faster, and its vantage point is looking down. Rovers also can’t traverse certain areas, but you can fly over them.” – Steve Gitlin
This system works via solar power and can climb up to 65,000 feet then remain in the atmosphere. This technology led to the development of an unmanned helicopter that reached 92,000 feet, a world record.
How the vehicle worked made sense for use in Mars’ atmosphere. “JPL needed an unmanned helicopter for the mission. We built it, proved it could be done, and most of the mechanical parts on the Mars helicopter, Ingenuity,” Gitlin shared.
The Ingenuity has been successful in its flights and is now in operation mode, performing actual missions. “This opens up new opportunities for scientific experiments with planets or bodies with an atmosphere. It also has advantages over the rovers on the ground, which are slow. The Ingenuity can cover ground faster, and its vantage point is looking down. Rovers also can’t traverse certain areas, but you can fly over them,” Gitlin added.
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