The Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (CCUVS) was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit company to serve Canada’s UVS industry in 2007. Its development was driven by the need for a national UVS centre to maintain and increase the sector’s competitiveness. Not to be confused with an association, the CCUVS is the first point of contact for academia, industry and government to work with and develop the growth of emerging civil, commercial and military applications.

The CCUVS board of directors represents industry and academia from across the nation and has government representation to round out the key stakeholders in Canada. The mix of operational staff and board members makes CCUVS the nation’s premier facilitator for the unmanned vehicle industry.

During the past 18 months, CCUVS has promoted and supported Canadian UV initiatives both nationally and internationally. CCUVS has been an active participant on the Transport Canada Working Group to assist with streamlining the Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC) process. The centre has already begun to amalgamate university, government and industry interests in the aerial, marine and land UVS applications, with particular emphasis on environmental concerns and solutions.

The key objectives of CCUVS are to:
· facilitate the sustained profitable growth of the Canadian UVS industry
· increase and bring focus to research and networking within the Canadian UVS industry
· develop the commercialization of such research
· provide solutions for operational, regulatory and technical challenges
· expand both national and international UVS markets
· act as facilitator and change agent for UVS policies and regulations.

Located in Medicine Hat, in southeastern Alberta, a city of 60 thousand with an industrial base in oil and gas, agriculture, cattle, defence research and the rapidly expanding aerospace sector – with an emphasis on unmanned vehicles systems – CCUVS is well placed to sustain operations as it reaches out across the nation to grow the industry.

While unmanned vehicle systems have evolved throughout the past three decades, the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems has been created at a time when the environment is transitioning from ad hoc development to early stage integrated, coordinated and widespread operations with emphasis on commercial and civil application.

These opportunities are not only available in Canada but throughout North America and internationally as well. CCUVS recognizes this in its strategic partnering and solution provision, both of which are geographically and technologically dispersed to meet the needs of all Canadian enterprises.

One of the most attractive features CCUVS has to offer customers is the tremendous amount of restricted range space and testing grounds. With a solid relationship with several Canadian government agencies and close affiliation to the Department of National Defence and Transport Canada, CCUVS has access to modern large testing and training ranges located throughout Canada. Goose Bay in Labrador is a world class air training range that boasts over 35 thousand square miles of flying training area with all weather Terrain Following Radar available from take off to landing. The Primrose Air Weapons Range, located in the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (Home of Exercise Maple Flag), is another example. A keynote location for world class testing facilities is CFB Suffield, located 30 miles from CCUVS in Medicine Hat. The base is home to the Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) establishment that has been a leader in the field of robotics and UAVs for over 30 years. Void of water and forestation, DRDC’s Experimental Proving Ground is Canada’s premier test range for ground and airborne unmanned vehicles.

Because of the size and isolation of these ranges, customers can conduct their operations in confidence and at their desired level of privacy or security. CCUVS has also been successful in developing flight programs in unrestricted airspace by assisting clients with SFOCs and other coordinated activities in Foremost, Alberta.

By selecting one of several geographical locations, customers can choose the type of terrain, weather and season they wish to conduct their tests. Some restrictions may apply accessing some range calendars, but for the most part there is an abundance of time and space to conduct R&D and T&E through the coordination and planning activities of CCUVS.

The newly acquired Robonic MC2555LLR UAV launcher is a prime example how the centre has invested in the future of the UAV sector by providing a world class UAV launcher available for commercial use throughout Canada and abroad. This procurement represents a cost saving measure for industry by providing a mobile launching system for lease – rather than a hefty capital investment during early developmental profiles.

CCUVS has provided solid representation for the Canadian UV industry at national and international trade missions such as AUVSI in Washington and San Diego, and the Farnborough International Air Show. Prominent Canadian trade shows such as DEFSEC, UVS Canada and AUVSI Canada have also been key opportunities to connect with industry.

This elevated awareness clearly indicates that the CCUVS is now fully operational and open for business. In an industry that still maintains its centre of gravity from military applications, CCUVS is already assisting government, commercial industry, and academia to accelerate into this rapidly growing high tech sector by providing the connectivity, solutions and networking required to get people and businesses engaged.

The evolution of the UVS market demands that CCUVS be visionary, agile and innovative. The primary value that the centre can provide today is to facilitate the sustained and profitable growth of an integrated critical mass of expertise across Canada that can be used as a springboard to national and international markets. This also works in a reverse role whereby international industries can benefit from gaining access to a Canadian markets. Through the development of critical partnerships in the marketplace, and with academia and government, CCUVS will further enable Canadian firms to sustain their growth, increase employment and stimulate further technological development in the UVS industry.

Sterling Cripps is vice president of marketing and program development for the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems ( or 403-488-7224).