Two times a year, unmanned-aerial-vehicle (UAV) makers bring their wares to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s biannual field demonstration to try and carve out a niche in an exploding defense market.
This year, according to CQ.com's Rob Margetta (subscription only), one UAV stood out: the small, relatively inexpensive "Point and Toss" from IATech of Gainesville, Florida.
Far from the massive, carrier-launched X-47B, the point-and-toss unit measures 3 feet across and is thrown like a paper airplane. And far from the multimillion-dollar UAVs Northrop is developing, the Point and Toss costs only about $25,000.
“The difference with this system is that it’s easy to operate,” said Donald K. MacArthur, chief technology officer at IATech. Later he added, “We’ve taken the complexity out of the game.”
Assembly of the Point and Toss takes only two minutes, he said. Then, operators launch the vehicle, let it travel up to a kilometer while shooting video or still imagery, and have it return automatically to the same spot — all within its 30-minute operating period.
A pilot isn’t needed to make the machine work — in fact the Point and Toss lacks any kind of a joystick because it does all of the flying itself.
According to its advertisement, the Point and Toss is launched by throwing it like a boomerang and is marketed as a surveillance and reconnaissance tool, allowing soldiers or any security or law enforcement officers to get situational awareness by seeing around a building or over a ridge.
Donald K. MacArthur, chief technology officer at IATech, told CQ.com the system also complements homeland security and emergency response missions as well as military ones.
♦ Photo of "Point and Toss" courtesy of IATech