AeroVironment Inc. received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration that allows its Puma unmanned aircraft to be used for commercial purposes.
The first non-military uses for the 13-pound, hand-launched Puma will include monitoring of oil spills and wildlife observation off the coast of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Circle. AeroVironment is based in Monrovia but manufactures in Simi Valley, where it also tests the Puma and its other small drones.
The Puma is the first AeroVironment aircraft to receive approval for commercial operations in the United States. The aircraft was developed for reconnaissance in war zones.
The initial missions in the Arctic will lead to broader adoption of the Puma for other uses, said AeroVironment Chief Executive Tim Conver.
Others have said that civilian use of drones could include traffic monitoring, police surveillance and storm tracking.
“Aerial observation missions can now be safely accomplished in hazardous Arctic locations, which will reduce the risk of manned aviation in an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner,” Conver said in a prepared statement.
Shares closed down 20 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $22.66 on the Nasdaq.