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Flight of the SkyRanger

When Typhoon Hagupit hit the eastern Philippines in 2014, a SkyRanger helped map out the worst-hit areas and pinpoint where aid needed to be delivered first. And when an earthquake shatter Nepal earlier this year, relief organizations also counted on the SkyRanger to assist with disaster relief efforts.

Manufactured in Waterloo by Aeryon Labs, the small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) is a four-propeller unit with two high-resolution cameras.

Aeryon SkyRangerWith customers in more than 30 countries, it is hardly a new product. But while commercial and public safety applications remain its primary business, it is “seeing a lot of success with [its] global military customers,” says David Proulx, vice president for product and marketing.

Though the SkyRanger was designed to be easy to operate and comes with an intuitive interface and dynamic flight plans, “the aircraft itself is really robust and durable,” he said during an interview at CANSEC. “We can fly in sustained wind up to 65 kilometres per hour, gusting to 90 kph.” The sUAS can also be used in extreme weather conditions, with a temperature range that extends from -30°C to +50°C.

Aeryon recently introduced a 30 times high definition optical zoom imaging payload that allows both close inspection tasks as well as maximum standoff surveillance “without bringing the aircraft in the close proximity to the target,” Proulx said. So while the company’s aircraft have been of keen interest to the special forces community, he says there is now a noticeable move into the main branches of the service.

Thanks to its flexibility, Proulx also foresees Aeryon’s sUAS “undertaking mission roles that may be previously occupied by manned aircraft or by fixed-wing UAVs.”

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