Imaging the Future… IRIS brings new UAV industry to Kenai

At a recent Kenai Chamber of Commerce meeting John Parker outlined the mission of Integrated Robotic Imaging Systems (IRIS) to provide advanced, versatile unmanned aerial system solutions to meet real world challenges. “This is not a toy! This is a commercial UAV or unmanned aerial vehicle that came my attention a couple of years ago when I was involved with helping the State of Alaska deal with the tsunami clean up along our shores. What became apparent was that the state and federal agencies needed information regarding the location and type of debris and amounts we were dealing with and that is what spawned IRIS, because the best technology available to gather that information safely and economically was with a UAV as opposed to conventional aircraft and crew,” said Parker.

The Infotron SARL that Parker is the North American representative for is made in France and he told the Chamber that he hopes someday to assemble them in Kenai, “We are in discussions with Infotron to become an assembly plant to serve the U.S. market right here in Kenai. They had not approached the U.S. market until I made initial contact with them a year and a half ago and at some point we will be assembling them right here in Kenai,” Parker said.

Infotron produces both an electric and combustion powered UAV with the electric model starting right about $188,000 dollars. “It’s expensive equipment, but it’s reliable and cost effective when you compare it to conventional manned aircraft and applications. It also has a multiple array of onboard sensors controlled by integrated software that keeps it in contact with the base station over a secure three-way radio link. The avionics simplify handling by translating commands from the operator into flight controls and is also loaded with radar object avoidance equipment. It’s very reliable but requires specialized training to operate. They are easy to learn how to fly but have specific procedures that you have to learn and understand or you’ll crash it,” said Parker.

UAV’s are regulated by the FAA because they are considered aircraft says Parker and search warrants for law enforcement surveillance uses have the same requirements as home privacy rights, “Alaska has the strongest privacy laws in the country and the first hoops UAV’s went through and laws were enacted to relate to the use of UAV’s. As a member of the of UAV systems task force for Alaska we were tasked to address the privacy issue and recommend legislation which we did and the board continues to look at on an ongoing basis to be sure that people’s privacy rights are protected,” he said.

According to Parker the IT180 is a helicopter-type, counter-rotating rotor UAV developed for civilian and military security applications and for aerial work. The IT180’s original design gives it higher performance capabilities in gusty conditions and Parker believes has capabilities for applications such as industrial facility inspections, marine & wildlife surveys, search & rescue missions, TV & movie film production., forest and urban fire monitoring, natural disaster support missions and many other applications.

To learn more drop the IRIS headquarters in the log building on Main Street in Kenai or log on to uav-alaska.com.

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