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UAS Marketing 101

By Patrick C. Miller | October 02, 2014

There’s an old adage: "Say anything you want about me as long as you spell my name right." In other words, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

While the premise is debatable, Aerial Technology International (ATI)—which recently announced its expansion into UAS precision agriculture—provides an updated version of the saying: “You can shoot at our drone as long as you spell our name right.”

Several months ago, ATI co-founders Stephen Burtt and Lawrence Dennis, along with their lead pilot Kenny McDonald, appeared on the National Geographic TV show “Showdown of the Unbeatables” in an episode called Rifle vs. Drone.

McDonald flew ATI’s Aeronavics Skyjib 8 Ti-QR octocopter through a course while carrying a target. A representative from TrackingPoint attempted to hit the target using a sniper rifle fitted with the company’s XactSystem. Accurate out to 1,200 yards, the rifle calculates everything for the user (except wind) to hit the target.

After the octocoper completed the course without being hit, the shooter complained that the target was too small. Burtt and Dennis then agreed to have McDonald fly the course again, this time with the 55-inch wide UAV as the target.

“It’s like a very expensive carnival game,” the show’s host remarked.

Just when it looked as if the octocopter might again complete the course unscathed, McDonald engaged in a bit of taunting that resulted in the UAV being hit. The retractable landing skids automatically dropped down and the UAV landed.

“It was about a thousand dollars of damage,” Burtt said. “We had to replace the retract mechanism. But other than that, just the fact that the retracts went to failsafe and dropped down, it was the greatest advertisement for a copter you could ever have. That was just some great PR for us.”

Indeed.

At the end of a nationally televised show, it’s a small price to pay to hear: “It takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. The octocopter is unbeatable!”