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"For AeroVironment, success came as a result of four core elements: innovation, simplicity/elegance of design, reliability, and customer collaboration," said Scott Newbern, AeroVironment's chief technology officer. Newbern, who has been with the company since 1997, identified these core elements as the foundation that launched AeroVironment into the global, small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) business. 

According to Newbern, the innovative spirit has been a distinct characteristic among AeroVironment employees since the company's inception. "Back in the early days, many employees were aviation enthusiasts in one way or another," he stated, "and some were world champions competing in aircraft modeling events around the world. 

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Gossamer Condor - The First Of Its Kind

August 19, 2020 (Case Studies)

A human-powered airplane built by Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr.

Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr., had an unorthodox approach to aviation design, one that paid high dividends throughout his lifetime. His philosophy was to design and build for quick iteration, and he is quoted as saying, “Find a faster way to fail, recover, and try again.” That methodology certainly worked for the design of the Gossamer Condor, the first successful human-powered aircraft.

In 1959, British industrialist Henry Kremer put out a challenge to build a human-powered airplane and attached a substantial monetary prize for the winner. For 18 years, nobody could do it. Dr. MacCready was up for the challenge. Only six months after attempting his aircraft design, a pilot successfully flew the Gossamer Condor. The difference? While others needed a year’s worth of effort for each test flight, Dr. MacCready created a plane that he could fly, fix, and fly again in just a few hours.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.
  • New Puma Smart 2500 Battery extends Puma LE’s flight time by nearly 20 percent with up to 6.5 hours of endurance, delivering longer time on station, greater range, and maximizing its multi-mission capabilities
  • Now compatible with Puma 2 AE, Puma 3 AE and Puma LE, the Puma Bungee Launch System (BLS) expands aircraft launch options and operational capabilities 

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Aug. 11, 2020 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced the launch of two new Puma product line enhancement options that reinforce the company’s commitment to continuous improvement and expanding the operational capabilities of its family of tactical UAS. The newly announced product enhancement options are a result of AeroVironment’s collaboration with front-line users to develop innovative solutions that enable customers to proceed with certainty in ever-changing operational environments.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

HAPSMobile Inc. (“HAPSMobile”), a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) and minority-owned by AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV, “AeroVironment”), today announced the fourth successful test flight of its “Sunglider” solar-powered high-altitude platform system (HAPS). The flight took place on July 23, 2020 (PT) at Spaceport America (“SpA”) in New Mexico. With all basic aircraft tests for the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) now complete, HAPSMobile will proceed with preparations for stratospheric test flights.

In this test flight, Sunglider, the newly renamed UAS designed for stratospheric telecommunications platforms, reached altitudes higher than those of previous flights and maintained high altitudes for a long duration. Sunglider also successfully passed all test points, including flight speed changes, steep turns, automated flight control in the event of interrupted communications with the Ground Control System, and in-flight balance control.

In addition to the Hawaiian island of Lanai, HAPSMobile built a new test site at SpA as part of its mid- to long-term business plan. Since SpA offers flexibility in coordinating test flight schedules, there will be opportunities to conduct test flights with greater frequency and more freedom to conduct various types of tests. HAPSMobile also plans to conduct stratospheric test flights at SpA.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

Listen to Matt Keennon, MacCready Works Senior R&D Engineer and AeroVironment Technical Lead on the Mars Helicopter Program, discuss AeroVironment’s involvement in the project in collaboration with NASA/JPL and the incredible feat of developing a helicopter that will take flight on another planet.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

NASA plans to launch its fifth Mars rover, Perseverance, on a six-month journey to the Red Planet. Perseverance will boot up a mission to collect samples of Martian dirt that might have traces of ancient life, so that they can be returned to Earth by another mission later this decade. It will also carry a payload unlike anything that’s ever been boosted into space: a small autonomous helicopter called Ingenuity. Sometime next spring, probably in April, Ingenuity will spin up its rotor blades and become the first spacecraft to go airborne on Mars.

“I see it as kind of a Wright brothers moment on another planet,” says Bob Balaram, the chief engineer for the Mars helicopter project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It’s a high-risk, high-reward mission that could enable us to go to lots of places we haven’t been able to go before.”

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It wasn't enough for AeroVironment engineers to design drones for use on Earth - they had their sights set on something even bigger. 

Since 2013, AeroVironment's team of innovative engineers from our MacCready Works laboratory has been working with NASA/JPL to design and develop the first Mars drone - a helicopter that will be carried by the Mars 2020 rover. Its name is Ingenuity. The rover was designed and built by NASA/JPL and was recently named Perseverance, or Percy for short. Percy is scheduled to launch in July 2020 and arrive on Mars in early 2021.

The Mars helicopter is a small, autonomous rotorcraft that weighs 4 lbs. (1.8 kg). Its purpose is to demonstrate the viability of aerial robots for planetary exploration.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

When NASA’s Perseverance rover lifts off from Cape Canaveral for its months-long journey to Mars, it will be packing a stowaway of sorts.

Tucked securely in the craft’s underbelly will be Ingenuity, the first helicopter to fly on the red planet.

Created in collaboration with Simi Valley-based AeroVironment Inc., the high-tech drone is the brainchild of Bob Balaram, a principal member of the Mobility and Robotics Systems Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and chief engineer on the project.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., July 27, 2020 – In the 1970s, AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) founder Dr. Paul B. MacCready, Jr. became the first to design and build an aircraft that successfully achieved controlled human-powered flight, giving birth to the company’s reputation of achieving the impossible in aerospace engineering. Now, as the company begins its 50th year in business, it’s preparing to break yet another barrier by enabling a first-of-its-kind mission on Mars.

AeroVironment began operations in 1971 as a small engineering firm focused on applying aerodynamic principles to solve important challenges facing the world. Since its founding, AeroVironment and its innovators have done just that.

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Source: AeroVironment Inc.

Even though AeroVironment's products, or at least emulations of them, have starred in a number of Hollywood Blockbusters and extremely high-profile video games, few outside the defense community have ever really heard of the company. The reality is that AeroVironment is among the most fascinating and visionary aerospace companies on the planet. They saw the potential in lower-end drones that could be deployed by those on the front lines before pretty much anyone else did, and changed warfare as we know it as a result.

Though its hand-launched Raven reconnaissance drone is its most widely distributed product, AeroVironment's Switchblade, which is launched like a mortar and works as both a reconnaissance drone and a deadly missile, is probably its most intriguing. Often referred to as a 'suicide drone' in informal parlance, in so many ways Switchblade was a harbinger of what was to come. 

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