A Hartford-based aerial drone company is partnering with nonprofit technology incubator MakerspaceCT to roll out mobile manufacturing units it says will bring new job opportunities directly to American households.
Aquiline Drones, which manufactures remotely-piloted miniature aircraft, said it will soon be accepting pre-orders for its “Aquiline Agile Manufacturing Pod,” a prefabricated module that can house up to three workers. The sets hold interconnected test electronic components and assemblies needed to produce drones in almost any location with minimal overhead, according to company officials.
The units can be repackaged and moved after initial assembly, and Aquiline said it plans to make certified technicians available to ensure the modules are properly installed. A purchase price was not disclosed.
Aquiline is partnering with MakerspaceCT to bolster capacity in prototyping, sourcing materials and ultimately distributing the product.
MakerspaceCT officials said the pods — which can be set up at community centers, schools, warehouses or private residences — will serve as a boon to remote workers and would-be entrepreneurs.
“This revolutionary system allows access to new manufacturing talent, bringing the work center to people wherever they reside — in cities, suburbs or rural areas,” said Mark Colbert, who serves as the nonprofit’s chief operating officer. “It breaks down the barriers of travel and accessibility — including support for workers with special needs — and allows financial sustainability for those who want a solid, work-from-home employment solution in the micro-manufacturing sector.”
Aquiline founder and CEO Barry Alexander said he sees decentralized manufacturing as the key to meeting the country’s enormous demand for domestically-produced uncrewed aerial vehicles.
President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan calls for the mass deployment of drones to survey the nation’s roads, bridges and utility facilities. The federal government has been uneasy about using foreign-made drones for such potentially sensitive projects for some time and in February announced that it will no longer buy drones manufactured in China — effectively cutting out 76% of the drone market.
American producers will now have to step in, Alexander said, creating opportunities for those looking to strike out on their own after the economic tumult of the last 14 months.
“[The Agile Manufacturing Pod] truly breaks down any barriers of inclusivity, gender, race and disability as anyone can now manufacture at home and achieve financial independence,” he said. “We are redefining manufacturing and assembling goods in a post-COVID world.”