“We have two very capable platforms right now with
the ScanEagle and with the Integrator” unmanned aerial
vehicles, Guthrie said. “When we think about new roles,
we think about it in the sense of new payloads we can
integrate onto our systems. That leads to new mission
roles and potentially new customers.”
Insitu focused on the video stream payload when it was
founded in the 1990s, first on daytime with electro-optical
sensors and then the nighttime with infrared. But compa-
ny officials eventually realized they would need to expand
beyond video to meet future demands, Guthrie said.
“While we’ve continued to improve the quality and
improve the stabilization and kind of improved all
aspects of those video streams, we have started and
have had some degree of success integrating other
types of payloads into the platforms, and along with
that brings new missions,” he said.
For example, a maritime ship identification payload
has allowed the company to essentially take the antenna
used on the mast of naval ships to ping other ships in the
area and mount it on the unmanned system, enabling
queries of those ships from a higher altitude and range.
Insitu also has delved into the realm of small radars,
working with various types that each have their own
advantages in certain environments.
The actual platforms themselves — the Integrator
and ScanEagle systems — become essentially trucks
for a growing variety of payloads, and Insitu has made
an effort to make the transition between payloads as
seamless as possible.
“From the start of that development effort, we
designed the Integrator so we can very quickly integrate a payload,” Guthrie said.
The ScanEagle is an older platform and not as
amenable to payload integration as the Integrator, but
the company has incorporated some improvements to
allow for a wider range of payloads, he said.
Insitu does not develop payloads, but works with
numerous companies to identify payloads that will
integrate well with the company’s systems.
“The types of payloads we’re looking for — we’re
always looking for smaller, lighter, lower power,
because we can pack a more capable payload onto the
capability of the platform,” Guthrie said. ■