Sponsored by George Fox University
Home Back Issues January 2010 Unmanned plane business soars

Unmanned plane business soars

| Print |  Email
Articles - January 2010
Thursday, December 17, 2009
IMG_2531
An Insitu employee takes one of the company’s unmanned airplanes for a test flight in the Columbia River Gorge.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF INSITU

You may not have heard the unmanned vehicles coming, but they’re here. The market for humanless planes, boats and ground vehicles has exploded, creating a whole new tech sector for the Pacific Northwest.

The business at the core of the cluster is Insitu, which has logged 245,000 flight hours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over five years Insitu has grown from a promising 30-employee startup in tiny Bingen, Wash., to a thriving 720-employee Boeing subsidiary spilling across the state line into Oregon and seeding a whole new crop of spinoffs and suppliers.

Insitu is moving about 150 employees across the river into Hood River and considering building a large campus somewhere in the Columbia River Gorge. Its remotely operated, nearly undetectable airplanes have performed well overseas and could one day assist with wildlife monitoring, oil exploration and forest fire prevention.

Insitu has joined key regional players in the industry in the newly formed Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The group met at the Allison Inn in Newberg in November and heard a presentation about the latest in robotic vehicle research from Oregon State University professor Belinda Batten, an expert in dynamics and control.

The market for these businesses is huge and growing rapidly. The Obama Administration is requesting $3.5 billion for unmanned planes in fiscal 2010, a good chunk of which is expected to go to Insitu and its local suppliers. Also well positioned to cash in are:

Option-2-Horizontal
Insitu’s Scan Eagle launches and lands without a runway, captures surveillance images day and night and is almost undetectable from the ground.

• Evergreen International Aviation, the McMinnville defense contractor that is billing itself online as “the first and only unmanned aerial service provider.”

• Wilsonville-based FLIR Systems, which builds cameras for high-altitude surveillance and a laser targeting system that’s promoted in an online video featuring a series of impressive remote explosions.

• Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works, which has developed an unmanned seaplane called the Sea Scout.

• Cloud Cap Technologies of Hood River, which sells autopilot systems and small cameras to Insitu and other manufacturers.

• Northwest UAV Propulsion Systems, which imports parts from Germany and builds super-light and efficient engines in McMinnville.

FLIR, Cloud Cap and Insitu have registered for a Jan. 31 conference in Singapore sure to be an over-the-top geek fest for robotics nuts and a great place to land contracts. Business Oregon, the state’s economic development arm, is also encouraging smaller players in the industry to attend by offering a grant to cover expenses.

“Everybody’s rushing to show off what they’ve got,” says Mark Zanzmill, who manages business development for Cloud Cap. “It’s like what I imagine the auto industry was like when cars first came out.” 

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

The global challenge

News
Friday, June 27, 2014
062714 thumb globalmarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

Over the last several months we have seen a wave of cross-border acquisitions, primarily U.S.-based companies looking to purchase non-U.S.-based companies. There are a few reasons for this, but the main culprit is the U.S. corporate tax system. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.


Read more...

Portland: Where young people go to work?

News
Friday, June 06, 2014
UntitledBY KATIE AUSBURGER | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

How to build a hipster-friendly work environment.


Read more...

EPA Standards: A breath of fresh air for the region

News
Thursday, June 12, 2014
EPABY ANDREA DURBIN | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Last week, the Obama administration took an important and welcomed step in the effort to protect the health and well-being of all Oregonians by limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants.


Read more...

OB Video: Dress for Success

News
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
DFSOBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.


Read more...

Oversight? Or gaming the system?

News
Monday, July 14, 2014
AmazonBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.


Read more...

Oregon Business wins awards

News
Monday, June 30, 2014

ASBPEOregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS