Waterloo robot drone helps Libyan rebels

Dave Kroetsch has come a long way from his high school hobby of aerial robotics. The University of Waterloo grad and co-founder of Aeryon Labs has seen his company’s aerial drone – Scout - become a media star this past month for helping Libyan rebels search for Colonel Ghadafi and his supporters.

Major media outlets have done stories on Scout’s work in Libya where the 1.2 kg helicopter whizzed around sending high-resolution photos and streaming videos back to the rebels - even at night! The Canadian government bought the $120,000 suitcase-sized drone for the Libyan rebels to fly recognisance during the revolution.

While working on aerial robotic systems at the University of Waterloo, Kroetsch and another student, Mike Peasgood decided to perfect and commercialize a small, camera-equipped drone. Backed by funding from family and friends, they launched Aeryon Labs Inc. in 2007 and now have 23 employees, many of them Waterloo graduates.

Aeryon believes Scout can play a unique role in many more sectors than the military such as assisting with disaster relief efforts and working with police forces or fire departments. BP used Scout to help survey an oil spill last year and in 2009, it guided authorities to a hidden drug lab in the Central American jungle. Scout is a piece of cool tech that’s building its own market niche.   

Find out more

Watch this CBC video clip of the Scout at work:  Canadian robot spy helps Libyan rebels

Watch Aeryon Lab's robotics developer, April Blaylock, fly the Scout and describ how she programs robots with sci-fi capabilities, notably the ability to fly unmanned. Find out more about her innovative career.

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