It's still one week before AeroVironment
On Tuesday, the company announced the culmination of four years' work on a DARPA project to create a "stealthy, persistent, perch and stare" UAV. The robot in question is a vertical takeoff and landing UAV (a VTOL), meaning that it's basically a miniature helicopter, as opposed to a miniature airplane. As such, the new bird (now dubbed the "Shrike") has more in common with Boeing's
One key difference is that the Shrike is smaller than the other robot helos I named. Much smaller. Weighing just 5 pounds, the Shrike is smaller than a breadbox and, more importantly, smaller than the standard bearer of this UAV type, Northrop Grumman's
How small is it?
That's a good thing, because it means the Shrike is eminently portable. For the first time, AeroVironment has provided DARPA with a UAV that can be carried in a soldier's rucksack and launched from any surface, flying off to "perch" in place and "stare" at whatever the folks in camouflage want it to take a peek at. Once finished, the Shrike takes off, flies back to home base, and lands. According to AeroVironment's press release, the Shrike can fly for as long as 40 minutes on a single charge, hovering and keeping an eye on bad guys if there's no convenient place to perch, or setting down, conserving its energy, and streaming several hours of video back to its controller.
What's it mean to investors?
As new as the Shrike is, it's hard to say how big of a revenue opportunity this is. Honeywell
I know I'm impressed. Now let's see what the Pentagon, and AeroVironment investors, think of it.
How will the Shrike perform? How well will AV's stock perform? Add AeroVironment to your Fool Watchlist, and find out.