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Unmanned Systems have challenged the notion of “possible” since the industry was born circa World War I. Like our agile industry, Insitu has changed and grown constantly since our inception in the early 1990s. Though we have outgrown the garage from which our first UAVs were produced, our passionate team strives to embody the original entrepreneurial spirit, ethics and vision that our founders established two decades ago and continue to drive our innovation and vitality today and onward.

We empower our global customers to make the best, most informed decisions possible. We do this by creating industry-leading integrated systems that collect, process and distribute information for decision-makers.

Team Insitu is driven by four pillars.


Our pioneering spirit is derived from a genuine passion for what we do and an intention to remain at the forefront of change in this dynamic industry, constantly raising the standards and pushing the boundaries. For our blog, this pillar represents leading technology developments that drive the Unmanned Systems industry.


This category encompasses industry developments that inspire and challenge our team to deliver the most effective and efficient solutions possible, and pivot quickly when our customers need us to.


Our team stands together, made only stronger by our diversity in thought and location. This synergy encompasses not only those within our company, but also our customers, aviation regulators, industry thought-leaders, and countless others whose contributions collectively and constantly drive us to think bigger.


As a global company, we are fortunate to be a part of many diverse communities. Some of these communities revolve around where we are, while others are inherent to what we do. Regardless of how we relate, Team Insitu values and supports each community member, and embraces the uniqueness that each one brings to our culture and industry.



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A true “find” capability for UAS

By Pete Kunz, Vice President and Chief Engineer

As the unmanned future unfolds, we have been continuously able to discover and create new ways to leverage technology for information gathering. Here at Insitu, this is driven by an innovative spirit and the foundational motivation to provide better information from places where situational awareness was previously difficult to obtain or flat-out unavailable.

Wide-area open-ocean search has historically required the use of large manned aircraft or ships equipped with radar to detect objects at sea, while small/tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have been reserved for small scale or cued searches and the observation of known objects. Maintaining homeland security, ensuring safe and threat-free maritime commerce, and being the first link of success in maritime humanitarian missions are just a few of the key missions accomplished with broad area maritime surveillance. In all these scenarios, aviation resources are always precious and sometimes scarce. Efficiency matters. Recognizing this, we pursued a solution that would allow our UAS to bear the load, freeing other assets to be best applied to the problem at hand, and as a whole, to be more successful and effective in the mission at hand.

In collaboration with Hood Technology and Sentient Vision Systems, we have now developed a new technology for ScanEagle that provides greater maritime search capability called ViDAR, which stands for Video Detection and Ranging.

How it works

The challenge with just “looking around with your camera” is often called the soda straw effect. To see detail at any distance you’d need to zoom way in, only viewing a tiny swath of the larger area. It’s a big ocean! This just does not work. ViDAR autonomously sweeps the ocean’s surface in real time, identifying distinct shapes in the canvas, indicated by unique clusters of pixels and sending location coordinates and snapshots back to the ground control station. This technology draws attention to inconsistencies in the water’s surface, such as a ship, a whale or even an oil slick. With pinpoint accuracy, an operator can then pick those of interest and take a closer look with our sharp-eyed turret, also known as “cross-cueing”.

Putting it to the test

Last fall, we flew ViDAR over the South Pacific and immediately started seeing results impossible to achieve with the “look around with your camera” approach. Small boats showed up at medium distance and large boats were identified from even further away. Once detected, our high-zoom camera was able to gather detailed imagery of these objects. At one point, we cued to a snapshot and were rewarded with images of a spouting whale over a mile away from ScanEagle. It would be nice to say we expected that, but in all honesty we were impressed. ScanEagle equipped with ViDAR is proof of the innovative spirit that continues to drive superior information delivery and better decision making around the world.

ViDAR is in the final stages of development.

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