Uniform Sierra Aerospace launches its Panther outdoor tactical UAS
The drone’s features are specially calibrated for outdoor search-and-rescue and first-responder cases
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Public safety and government agencies, including police departments, fire departments and emergency management agencies, now can purchase a drone designed and built in the U.S. for use by first responders and in search-and-rescue cases in outdoor settings.
Uniform Sierra Aerospace, a company that builds small, unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, has launched its Panther drone for the marketplace. The company was founded by Purdue University alumni Duncan Mulgrew, Jeremy Frederick and Trevor Redpath.
Mulgrew, the company’s CEO, said passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024 means federal grant money can no longer be used to purchase Chinese-built drone equipment. He said agencies need entirely U.S.-built options that perform well under the suboptimal outdoor conditions in which they often fly.
“The primary challenge of outdoor operations is being able to operate no matter the weather conditions at the time,” Mulgrew said. “In the event of a missing person case that requires search and rescue, our users can’t afford to ground their drone fleet if it’s windy or raining.”
Mulgrew said Panther can fly in higher winds than other UAS and is waterproofed to a level that allows it to fly in rain and snow. Other key features for outdoor use are its sensor package, speed, flight time, compliance with FAA regulations for night operations and low detectability.
“Panther’s sensor package is mechanically stabilized and includes both a 40x zoom camera and a thermal camera, which allows operators to conduct searches and observations at long ranges and high speeds,” Mulgrew said. “It can fly for more than 45 minutes and cruise at 50 miles per hour in the right conditions, allowing it to cover more ground than competitive systems, which is critical in search-and-rescue and drone-as-first-responder use cases. It also is compliant with FAA night flying rules, so it can be legally and safely deployed at any time of day.
“Also, to ensure the safety of our operators in potentially dangerous deployments, Panther is built to be challenging to see and hear from the ground,” Mulgrew added. “Even when it is as close to 300 feet to a subject, in the right conditions it is impossible to hear over ambient noise.”
Panther complements Arrowhead, an indoor environment UAS, in Uniform Sierra Aerospace’s product lineup.
“Panther is much larger than Arrowhead to carry larger batteries and more complex camera systems that enable it to effectively perform its job at the ranges required,” Mulgrew said.
In 2023 Purdue Innovates awarded $100,000 to Uniform Sierra Aerospace. The company moved to a new production facility in the Purdue Technology Center, a business incubator in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.
About Uniform Sierra Aerospace
Uniform Sierra Aerospace is a small but dedicated team of UAS engineers and operators making American-built drone systems accessible and useful for those that need them most. We are fully U.S. based and proudly build our aircraft just north of Purdue University, where the founding team met and where Uniform Sierra Aerospace started.
About Purdue Innovates
Purdue Innovates is a unified network at Purdue Research Foundation to assist Purdue faculty, staff, students and alumni in either IP commercialization or startup creation. As a conduit to technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, startup creation and venture capital, Purdue Innovates serves as the front door to translate new ideas into world-changing impact.
For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at email@example.com.