By Scott Simmie
There was a major announcement on the opening day of the #UC19Ottawa conference: Three Alberta-based companies in the #unmanned world are partnering with Peraton Canada on a five year, $12.5M project that will create 50 “high-value” jobs.
The goal of “SkySensus” is to “advance the development and use of RPAS technology for BVLOS applications,” according to a news release. The companies brought together include Calgary-based AERIUM Analytics, Canadian UAVs and the Foremost UAS Test Range.
Starting with testing on the Foremost Range, the project will gradually move into increasingly complex airspace until – eventually – long-range BVLOS flights will be taking place in Canada’s high north.
“We believe this is the largest investment between a defence company and the Canadian unmanned industry in R&D innovation and commercialization,” says Denean Tomlin, Peraton’s ITB/Offsets Manager.
The genesis of this project began one year ago, at UC18Vancouver. The now-partners in the project began discussing some of the challenges facing the RPAS industry: Mainly breaking the BVLOS barrier and a solid RTM to safely integrate manned and unmanned aircraft.
With their combined skillsets, they started talking about a potential solution. And Peraton Canada was looking to invest in a solid Canadian project as part of its obligations under Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits policy – which requires companies that win Canadian military and coast guard contracts to invest the equivalent amount in economic development in Canada.
“For us to be part of a five year program with funding at these levels is a dream come true,” says Doug Hanna, General Manager of the Foremast UAS Test Range.
For AERIUM Analytics, it’s also a big deal.
“It is critical – it will help put us on the global stage,” said Jordan Cicoria, AERIUM’s VP of Operations.
As for Peraton Canada, it has no doubt the new partnership will benefit all concerned in the long run.
“Project SkySensus is the enabler for safe and controlled BVLOS operations in Canada,” said Jim Gillespie, Vice President, Peraton Canada.
“It will position Canada as a leader in the world for beyond visual line of sight operations,” he continued, adding: “This is the “Wright Brothers of today.”
The significance of the announcement was not lost on Michael Cohen, President and CEO of pioneering RPAS business Industrial Skyworks and the new Chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada / Systèmes Télécommandés Canada.
“This is fantastic news that sends a clear signal,” says Cohen. “This industry is literally just beginning, as are the opportunities for Canadian companies. I applaud this announcement, and look forward to the coming accomplishments of the SkySensus consortium.”
You can download the SkySensus release in .pdf format here.
A new website will be published soon @ www.skysensus.ca