Case Studies

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The Nano Hummingbird proved to be a first-of-its-kind innovation. The micro air vehicle was the first flapping-wing, nano unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with tai-axis control, which enabled it to hover and fly sideways, backward and forward, as well as rotate clockwise and counter clockwise and counterclockwise - all by remote control. 

Designed and developed by AeroVironment's MacCready Works Advanced Solutions team, the Nano Hummingbird was a unique project that satisfied a specific customer requirement.

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Solar technology isn't a recent discovery. Its history dates back to the seventh century B.C. when a magnifying glass was used to concentrate the sun's rays to make fire. 

Fast forward to 1839, French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect (generating voltage and electric current upon exposure to light) while experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes in a conducting solution. He saw that the cell produced more electricity when it was exposed to light. Many physicists and scientists contributed to the awareness, introduction and proliferation of solar energy technology, including AeroVironment founder Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr.

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AeroVironment's Huntsville office recently took action to participate in the company's IMPACT! Program by getting involved in several local activities.

AeroVironment donated $2500 to the 2020 Still Serving Veterans (SSV) Golf Tournament. The annual event took place Friday, Oct. 9, in Cullman, Ala. All proceeds went to support veterans.

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Imagine a frontline defense that could neutralize your enemy within seconds and save your life and the lives of those around you. The movie "The Hurt Locker" features a scene in which the protagonists are pinned down overnight by a single sniper. Every time a member of their group peeks over the embankment to fix the location of the sniper, they are shot. Now, imagine if the team possessed a tube-launched air vehicle that they could launch at will and use to find, fix and neutralize the sniper without placing anyone in harm's way. That "imaginary" frontline defense solution is real, and it's called Switchblade.

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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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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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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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Are you familiar with e-waste? Can you think of how e-waste is a part of your life? E-waste, or electronic waste, is the popular term loosely used for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life." Common e-waste products include TVs, VCRs, printers, computers, monitors, cell phones, and copy machines.

Rapid advances in technology and an expanding demand for new features accelerate the obsolescence of "old" electronics, increasing the volume of e-waste. Constant turnover can result in improper disposal, which leaves tons of salvageable materials such as precious metals, plastics, and glass, as well as hazardous chemicals, in landfills.

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AeroVironment makes an impact on local schools through its Corporate Social Responsibility Program

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility Program, AeroVironment continued its commitment to making an impact in the community in 2019 by earmarking money for the Simi Valley Education Foundation's (SVEF) annual Enhancements Grant Program. AeroVironment chose to fund grants specifically for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-related projects throughout the Simi Valley Unified School District. Money was awarded based on grant requests written by teachers for enhancement of education in their classrooms. Distributed funds were presented in person at each school for immediate use.

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AeroVironment's Puma AE Makes Historical Debut to Assist with Navigation through Icy Waters

Puma AE made history in 2016! Never before had an unmanned aircraft system been used by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star for its annual Deep Freeze mission to Antarctica's McMurdo Sound. Every year, this heavy icebreaker travels to the Sound to open up the shipping lanes needed to resupply the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station and other facilities on Ross Island.

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