U.S. Drone Company Highs & Lows—Intel Shutters Drone Program, ASYLON Secures Research Contract, TerraView Releases U.S.-Made Ranger ProX8P
BY Zacc Dukowitz15 April 2020
As the federal debate continues over whether to ban drones from China, U.S. drone companies have seen some highs and lows recently.
Most notable is the news from Intel that it will be closing shop on its drone program. The news was so quiet that it hasn’t been picked up by major press outlets—more on that below.
Photo credit: Intel
On the bright side, several U.S. drone companies have been making moves and releasing new products lately.
In last week’s drone news alone we had a lot to talk about on the U.S. front:
- Women and Drones opened its awards for nominees
- Prime Air got a new CEO
- Iris Automation released its commercial BVLOS tool Casia 360
- Drone education company AeroVista Innovations was acquired by DroneUp
- And InterDrone is still on for September in Dallas, TX
This week in U.S. drone news we’re covering Intel’s recent announcement about closing its drone program, Philadelphia-based ASYLON’s research contract with the Air Force, and TerraView’s release of the RangePro X8P for industrial drone applications, a drone made to meet the requirements of a potential ban on Chinese drones and drone components.
Let’s take a closer look.
Intel Quietly Shutters Its Drone Program
The biggest recent U.S. drone story is also one of the most under-reported: Intel is reportedly closing down its drone program.
The two biggest aspects of Intel’s drone programs were its Falcon 8+, a high-end solution for commercial applications that sold for about $25K (the exact price wasn’t made public), and its light show drones, which helped the company secure a lot of publicity and at least a few Guinness World Records.
To confirm the story about Intel closing its drone program, we’ve reached out to a few contacts in the drone industry and received confirmation that it looks like Intel is, in fact, stopping production of the Falcon 8+ but it will continue production of its light show drones—for now.
For a deeper dive into what is and isn’t closing in Intel’s drone program read this article by Sally French (AKA The Drone Girl).
A photo of Intel’s Guinness Record drone swarm at the 2018 Winter Olympics
ASYLON Secures Research Contract with U.S. Air Force to Explore Water-Based Fuel for Drones
ASYLON is a Philadelphia-based drone company that focuses on drone-related software and hardware for security applications.
Recently the company was awarded a contract with the United States Air Force Research Lab to work toward creating new ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) technology.
One intriguing aspect of the technology ASYLON will be working to develop is that it “includes exploring the ability to use available water-based resources in the mission operating environment to generate power and recharge air and ground autonomous platforms, so they remain operational longer at the point of need.”
Learn more about ASYLON’s DroneCore perimeter security automation technology in this video:
ASYLON and the Memphis IPP
ASYLON also made headlines recently as a U.S.-based drone company addition to the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority’s IPP (Integration Pilot Program).
In its role at the Memphis IPP, ASYLON is helping FedEx Express and other IPP partners in perimeter surveillance of logistics warehouses, as well as foreign object debris (FOD) detection on cargo ramps during day and night operations.
DJI was notably left out of the ten IPPs that were originally accepted, but then was quietly added to the Memphis IPP a year and a half later, in December of 2019. For those with security concerns about DJI drones, the inclusion of U.S.-based ASYLON could be seen as a counter-balancing presence in the Memphis IPP.
Photo credit: ASYLON
Note: The UAS Integration Pilot Program, or UAS IPP, is a federal program created to test types of drone operations prohibited by the Part 107 rules, like Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) or at night. An explicit goal of the program is to include local authorities at the state, county, and municipal levels in shaping drone policy.
TerraView’s New RangePro X8P Pixhawk—Designed & Created in the U.S. to Avoid Fallout from Looming Chinese Drone Ban
TerraView is a California-based drone company focused on creating enterprise solutions for industrial applications.
Photo credit: TerraView
The company recently released the RangePro X8P, or X8 Pixhawk. The Pixhawk is a rugged, professional drone made to help companies with industrial applications, including:
- Structural integrity surveys
- Terrain mapping and modeling
- Construction site planning
- Solar panel inspections
- Pipeline inspection
- Tower inspections
- Power line inspections
A standout feature of the RangePro X8P is its super-long battery life—it can stay in the air for up to 70 minutes.
Long battery life is also one of the main selling points for the primary offering from another U.S.-based company, Impossible Aerospace. Its Impossible US-1 can fly up to 75 minutes and was created primarily to support applications in public safety.
The RangePro X8 in Action
Made with a Chinese Drone Ban in Mind
The RangePro X8P is very similar to the RangePro X8, except that the X8P was made specifically to avoid any fallout from a potential ban of Chinese drones and drone components—specifically the proposed American Security Drone Act of 2019.
We have been working with suppliers in the U.S. and other U.S. partner countries to provide best-in-class technical solutions and components that allow us to manufacture one of the highest-performing commercial drones in the market today.
– Bruce Myers, President of TerraView
To address security concerns about drone components made in China, TerraView has taken the following steps:
- Replaced the X8’s A3 flight control system (which was presumably made in China) with a U.S.-made Pixhawk flight control system
- Included a Herelink ground control station option for encrypted radio/data
- Included non-Chinese RGB and mapping camera options, including FLIR options (FLIR is based in the U.S.)
Know of other U.S. drone news stories you’d like to share? Add them to this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.