The US Department of Defense (DoD) has selected five local companies to deliver commercial drones to the military and government agencies.
The move is a part of the government’s efforts to reduce reliance on imported items, and mitigate security and supply chain concerns.
As part of the move, Vantage Robotics, Skydio, Parrot, Teal and Altavian were approved to start the production of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) from next month. The DoD also awarded $13.4m to the five companies to commence the manufacturing process.
The announcement is said to be culmination of 18 months of work, known as the Blue sUAS Project, by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the army.
Under the project, DIU and the army procured the best technology from the US and allied companies for the development of small drones that can be adopted by the armed forces.
Defense for Research and Engineering Acting Undersecretary Michael Kratsios said: “UAS technologies have incredible promise and potential to not only provide great economic benefit for the American people, but also to enhance safety and security for our nation.
“We need a strong, secure domestic UAS manufacturing base to ensure American leadership in this critical field.
“Blue sUAS represents a tremendous first step toward building a robust and trusted UAS domestic industrial base that ensures sustained delivery of highly-capable, secure UAS to the warfighters that depend on it.”
The sUASs are expected to have a range of at least 3km, with a minimum flying time of 30 minutes.
The drones will be able to operate through rain and dust, will have open source protocol architecture, and will enable simple integration with ground controllers.