Ones to watch in 2011
Fixed wing or rotary Europe is proving to be fertile ground for innovators . Regulators across Europe are getting to grips with permitting drone flights in national airspace. Several test ranges that civilian developers can evaluate their craft exist. The conditions for rapid growth are met.
Perhaps most importantly the general public is beginning to become aware of small or light unmanned aerial systems.
Leading that awareness is the Parrot AR.drone not much more than a toy but with the ability to take images both still and video. Users are using them to look at roofs on wind free days. Very quickly the limitations of the iPhone controlled multi copter become apparent. It can’t handle much wind and lifts a very small payload. Next step hobby autopilot construction sites such as DIYdrones or OpenPilot to upgrade their platforms. Their is evidence that the migration is already happening. Once on that track its only a short hop to a professional system.
The Parrot ARdrone has provided the first low cost stepping stone for many into the UAS world. For that reason it will continue to be worth watching. Its not truly a UAS though.
Next year at sUAS News we are going to be watching these professional platforms evolve, our current European top 10.