August 08, 2012      

With all the bustle on the floor at AUVSI, you’d never guess at a glance that defense budgets are shrinking. Pandering to the DoD crowd is apparent, with simulated jungles and camouflage speckling the booths, but with professional partnering and modularity the words of the day, everyone is whispering “show me the money” (as in, literally, where is it?)

All the big boys are here, from Boeing to Northrop Grumman, with their massive UAVs, but mid-level players and components specialists are exhibiting the most versatility when you consider the progression of the commercial market for unmanned aerial, ground, and underwater vehicles. From embedded processing units the size of a credit card to advanced mosaic vision technology, one can easily see the profitability in creating high quality components for an industry moving towards a la carte ordering. Standardization will become key in this process as the open source movement and multi-robot interoperability on the battlefield progress.

A lot of talk has revolved around the location (Las Vegas) and its distractions, with newcomers and veterans alike wondering if some visitors are blinded by the neon lights. Walking the floor, I see a veritable toy land, a militarized microcosm of the Vegas strip. Check out our slideshow, and decide for yourself.