Fuel Cell Developer Adaptive Materials Is Michigan Success Story; Maybe Too Successful

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a ton of enthusiasm around “eyes in the sky,” especially because of the terrain, for having unmanned aerial vehicles fly for extended durations. That has significantly given a lot of business to us in the last six months or so.

X: So, you can actually draw a direct line between the surge in Afghanistan and an increase in business for you?

250w-150x150MC: Well, portable power seemed to be the thing that everyone was interested in a few years ago when we were in Iraq, and now that we’re in Afghanistan, definitely unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned ground vehicles because of the terrain. They’ve got more caves in Afghanistan, so sending robots into caves makes sense. Sending airplanes into the sky over mountaintops makes sense. So, yeah, I definitely think that has something to do with it.

But also we’re also an older and more mature company now. We were earlier-stage before. We made small power, about 60 watts of power, and that was great to throw in a folding backpack. We just thought the demand for 250 watts of power would be a much bigger market. And it’s more of a sweet spot for us. We’re better at it. So, when we moved up in power it was about the same time we were in Afghanistan. It’s about timing. We were already moving up in power, anyway. So, I’m not sure I’d say that one drove the other one, but they both happened at the same time.

X: Good timing. Right. Well, I’ve been speaking to a few people in the local robotics industry, and they’ve been telling me that the military market is good for now, but it’s not really sustaining. There are only so many units the military will want, and after that you need to branch off into civilian or homeland security markets. Is that something you’re thinking about, too?

MC: Yes, but for a very different reason than you said. Naturally, they [military customers] are an important goal going forward. We would never walk away from them. In terms of numbers of units, … Next Page »

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