IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

UAVs, the “Social Networks,” of the Defense Supplier World, Attract Heavy Investment in 2012

New generations of sensors, high-capacity data networks, and integrated digital technologies emerging in military & aerospace markets have assured strong, continued investment for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies – even in the face of current budget cuts for the US Department of Defense.  Ranging from the sizeable, high-altitude Global Hawk and Predator Class UAVs to man-portable systems capable of launch by hand or bungee slingshot, this disruptive technology has reshaped military strategy around intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) applications.  

Viewed as the “social networks” of the defense supplier world, VDC expects coming years will see strong growth in UAV-enabling technologies, as new and existing players expand their portfolio of solutions targeted at the domain.  Much as early social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Myspace) attracted an influx of companies into social networking, VDC believes that increasingly sophisticated, real-time ISR applications – combined with the seemingly ubiquitous media attention given to UAV solutions – will drive even more players in the military & aerospace markets to invest in advancing UAV technologies.  

  • Piloted remotely or - increasingly - autonomously, UAVs require high-performance computational systems capable of analyzing large amounts of data in near real-time.
  • Advanced image processing and rendering technologies, including hardware accelerators, enable these systems to handle more processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) of data on the UAV.  For example, rather than streaming all gathered data to command centers for analysis, advanced UAV systems are capable of mining through this data to identify frames containing specific features (ex. green truck).  As this technology improves, UAV image processing will be accelerated to allow enhanced real-time transmission and analysis of mission-critical information.
  • VDC also expects UAVs to be a prime market for small form factor embedded technologies, enabling potential growth for smaller CPUs (i.e. ARM-based, Intel Atom) and active backplane form factors (i.e. Mobile-ITX, Pico-ITX, PC/104).

VDC will soon be publishing a study analyzing the commercial market for embedded integrated computer systems (EICS) market within the military & aerospace industry (“Military/Aerospace:  Volume 4, Track 3: Embedded Integrated Systems Supplier Analysis”).  In this report, our analysts more thoroughly outline current macro, technological, and industry-wide trends impacting the military & aerospace vertical, and how VDC sees the market evolving.


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