One new development that I missed in the past couple of years was Canadian company Aeryon Lab’s new mini helicopter drone, ‘Scout’. Scout was used by Libyan rebels in their insurgency against the Qaddafi regime. To see a video taken by the rebels using the Scout, go here. For a closeup video of the Scout, go here. To see an informative sales video, go here. For Aeryon Labs home page, go here. Aeryon is marketed in some regions as ‘Daton’.
Aeryon’s involvement in Libya was via Zariba Security Ltd of Ottawa and was mediated by an unnamed Canadian government entity. Claude Barlow of Zariba took drones to the Libyan rebels. Barlow has in the past trained potential customers in the use of Scout, including the governments of Oman and Saudi Arabia, and two ministries of the Indian government.
Aeryon Labs is based in Waterloo, Ontario. It claims its micro drone is ‘targeted at the backpack of every soldier, and the trunk of every police car’. From its web page, one can deduce that it already had many worldwide customers, especially in the security industry, but also in the form of government departments like Environment Canada. Aeryon claims its team comes from diverse experience in Raytheon, L3-Wescam and Cisco Systems. Aeryon Labs has been heavily supported by Canada’s government, promoting high technology industries.
List price appears to be about $50,000, or $100,000 to $150,000, although one wag has claimed that the machine is simply a repackaged toy that costs about $500 retail. By mid 2011 the drone had been sold in ten countries and was being used in applications as diverse as the BP oil spill, Greek riots, and the Libyan insurgency. Some of the applications have been benign, as in the case of oil spills. Others have overtly military, as in its use by the Libyan insurgents. Still others ominously figure in the police response to civil disturbances, tilting the balance still further in the favour of authorities. Anthony Reinhart has catalogued some of the applications in an article in Communitech.ca
Mike Peasgood and Steffen Lindner were the cofounders of the company. Investors in the company include the Industrial Research Program of the Canadian government, the tax incentive programme of Revenue Canada, the Government of Ontario, and friends and family.
This blog post will be expanded in the near future. The proliferation of low cost micro drones is an issue that needs to be explored more fully. The downsides of this industry do not appear to be addressed much in the Canadian press.