The Canadian government should back a national centre for the development, testing and marketing of autonomous unmanned vehicle systems (UVS), according to Aviation Alberta, which represents the western Canadian province's aviation and aerospace industries.

The Canadian Centre for Autonomous Intelligent Systems (CCAIS) could include companies such as General Dynamics Canada, Meggitt Defence Systems Canada and Raytheon Canada, which were involved in a feasibility study on the proposed organisation, says Canada's former air force chief Lloyd Campbell, who led the study for consultancy group JEBTek.

The CCAIS "will be a national, not-for-profit corporation, which supports the development and commercialisation of unmanned vehicle systems and other AIS [autonomous intelligent systems] technologies", Campbell says. Aviation Alberta will make formal proposals to the provincial and federal governments to obtain national recognition and initial funding. "Less than a couple of million dollars" is needed to set up the centre, says Campbell.

"I think it's time for the government to make a decision," says Bob Palmer, president of Meggitt Defence Systems Canada. The company would offer the CCAIS its international marketing expertise, while hoping to benefit from technology to expand its unmanned vehicle activities beyond airborne, land and sea targets, Palmer says. The CCAIS could become fully operational within six months of receiving a government go-ahead, he adds.

CAE, CDL Systems and Field Aviation were among companies participating in the study. The organisation will probably also involve Alberta-based research centres such as the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment at Cold Lake, the Defence Research Development Canada agency at Suffield and educational institutions.

Source: Flight International