The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development, and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines, and insulators on towers.
It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified.
The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.
Instant Eye was developed by Physical Sciences Incorporated with funding from the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the Army Research Laboratory, and the Defense Department’s newly renamed Emerging Capabilities and Prototyping Office.
A myriad of users have been trained on the system and it has been delivered to special operations forces and deployed to the combat theater.
In fact, Alan Shaffer, principal deputy, office of the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats, and Capabilities that the system has proven itself in the combat theater.
“We outfitted Instant Eye with an electro-optical camera and an infrared illuminator, bringing a field-repairable, overhead surveillance capability to the soldier in the field at a cost of less than $1,000. Instant Eye would go on to provide targeting information for the neutralization of seven insurgents waiting to ambush a U.S. patrol,” Shaffer testified.