by Cynthia Kinnunen
It’s an unassuming little device that can take on some very major operations. Aeryon’s Scout Micro UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) has been involved with a diverse and sometimes dangerous array of missions.
From assisting Libyan rebels in their fight to free their country to supporting the safe delivery of critical fuel supplies to the remote location of Nome, Alaska, the Scout Micro regularly demonstrates its usefulness across the globe. It all started as the brainchild of Waterloo alumni Dave Kroetsch (BASc ’02, Computer; MASc ’07, Mechanical), Mike Peasgood (BASc ’98 & MASc ’04, Systems Design; PhD ’08, Mechanical) and Steffen Lindner (BASc ’92 & MASc ’95, Systems Design). Their combined interest in UAVs and determining a market need for small Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs was the spark they needed to create their product, the Aeryon Scout.
Aeryon has seen steady growth since its inception in 2007. “It’s really been a lot of smaller steps for us,” explains Marni McVicar (BASc ’84, Electrical), VP Operations. “The Scout was shown on the Discovery Channel, which brought in a number of opportunities, including BP Oil during the gulf spill. Our largest media recognition, however, was the use of the system in Libya.” The Scout Micro was chosen by Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) and, working through Aeryon’s partner company, Zariba Security Corporation, assisted in the acquisition of intelligence on Col. Gaddafi’s forces and helped coordinate rebel attacks. Most recently, it was pre-qualified for the Government of Canada’s Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program (CICP), which is a boost for this growing company.
The Scout itself is designed “for the trunk of every police car and backpack of every soldier,” in addition to other non-military uses such as aerial inspection. It can easily maneuver around bridges and other constructions to assess damage or wear and tear, saving a great deal of money and time over traditional means of evaluation. The clincher is its ‘easy-to-assemble, easy-to-use’ package, being able to be flown by anyone with just a few minutes of training.
The Aeryon team still remains closely connected with its Waterloo roots, with not only a high percentage of alumni as employees but also the continued use of dedicated and ambitious co-op students, as well, which Marni notes “has allowed the Aeryon Scout to be where it is today.”