If you want to know what the future looks like, sit down and have a talk with Roy Minson. He's the senior vice president and general manager of unmanned aircraft systems at Aerovironment, the manufacturer of nearly 85 percent of the Department of Defense's unmanned aircraft fleet--not the Reapers and Predators that so often make headlines, but small aerial systems that make up the vast majority of the DoD's 7,000 strong unmanned aircraft fleet. That is to say, business with the defense sector is good at Aerovironment. But today Minson is talking almost exclusively about non-military applications for the company's hardware--him, and just about everybody else at the nation's largest robotic systems show.
LAS VEGAS--The exhibition floor at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's annual North American show--the largest expo for both civilian and military unmanned robotic hardware in the country--opened yesterday, and for the rest of the week the robots are taking over, at least at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in sunny Las Vegas. Naturally, PopSci just couldn't stay away.