Prox Dynamics targets US defense market
Norwegian company aims to develop world’s most advanced nano drones
The CEO of the Norwegian-based Prox Dynamics, Gudmund Kjærheim, just stated that the company’s goal is to reach NOK 1.2 billion in sales by 2019, half of it in the U.S., with a profit margin of 20 percent. Their product, the Black Hornet, is the first commercially available airborne Personal Reconnaissance System (PRS). It provides end users with a highly mobile sensor system, enabling an immediate intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability.
Prox Dynamics was founded by Petter Muren in 2007 in Asker, just outside of Oslo. It builds on many years of experience in micro helicopter technologies. Muren was the first to design a passively stable helicopter rotor system that later formed the basis for radio-controlled toy helicopters. He worked several years as a consultant for a major nano air vehicle project before he put his ideas into his own company. Teaming up specialists in video and signal processing, hardware design, and operational know-how, he created the necessary foundation for the company.
Their mission is to develop, produce, and sell the world’s smallest and most advanced PRS. They want to create innovative solutions to complex problems based on modern microelectronics, new sensor technology, creative mechanical design, and efficient low-cost production techniques. Prox Dynamics works closely with industry leading partners and a broad customer base to deliver optimal and functional products that meet operator’s needs.
After losing NOK 40 million in 2014, the company made NOK 17 million before taxes last year with a profit margin of 12.4 percent.
The Black Hornet measures four inches long and one inch tall with a four-inch rotor span. It weighs just 16 grams, flies nearly silently, and is colored to match and blend in with the gray mud buildings of Afghan villages. The payload consists of a single tiny camera that delivers both full motion video and still images back to the recon soldier’s hand-held terminal up to 1,000 meters away. It may look like a child’s toy, but it has been ruggedized to handle the harsh, hot, and windy environments in which it operates. During 2012 the Black Hornet was deployed with UK Forces in Afghanistan, thus introducing a brand new, game-changing capability to modern warfare.
Last year Prox Dynamics also made contracts with the U.S. Army and Navy. Both have purchased the Black Hornet for testing and evaluation for operative use. The company is positioning themselves for deliveries to American defense. They have opened an office in Alexandria, Virginia, close to the Pentagon, and are also in the process of establishing production in Somerset, Kentucky.
They are on their way to becoming the world leader in nano drones.
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.