The buzz at this week's robotics show hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Washington DC was the F50, China's first robotic flying drone. The pizza-pan sized UAV is the brainchild of Shenzhen-based AEE Technology Co. and is China's first such entrant at what has blossomed into the world's largest robotics trade show.
AEE Technology Co.'s primary focus has been on remote-control and remote-operated AV products designed for police, security and military users. As such, the F50 is a logical – and literal – step up.
Though small in size and range, the F50's integral high-definition video camera could prove extremely useful in monitoring dangerous emergency situations such as building fires, hostage-taking incidents and other activity occurring in environments deemed hazardous to humans.
More ominously, drones like the F50 could be used to monitor anti-government protests while recording images of the participants from an unreachable distance.
Over the past few years, Chinese companies in both the public and private sector have poured resources into developing a range of drones and fixed-wing UAVs with the ultimate aim of attracting domestic and international buyers. AEE's overseas sales department manager, Wendy Wei, confirmed these plans by stating the company was “looking to drum up international sales and potential orders from military and police customers.”
The F50 may prove very tempting to international security firms and governmental institutions who have been unable to access American UAV technology due to export restrictions on sensitive technology.
“The market for military robotics has gone global,” said P.W. Singer, author of the book 'Wired for War,' “and China is looking to be a major producer and exporter in that market.”
Perhaps the F50 could find an even warmer reception from non-military users. After all, the pizza-pan sized drone may be able to keep an eye on protest marches but this inquiring mind wants to know: can it deliver a pizza? (via Unmanned and SinoDefenceForum)