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by Leo Johns, Aertos Product Manager

The President recently signed an executive order that will strengthen Buy American provisions.

The January 25th executive order redefines how much of a product must be made in the USA in order for it to qualify as “Made In America.” At the same time, the new regulations create a more transparent federal procurement process. That’s good.

The new executive order comes on the heels of increasing awareness that the USA’s leadership position in technical marketplaces has eroded over recent years. The order promises to build on the promising progress by the previous Administration and to refine the Buy American landscape. This may make a real difference in how American tech companies design, build, and sell products.

This of course is good news for domestic manufacturers of UAVs. That includes Digital Aerolus – as we stand on the cusp of launching the all-new, all-USA Aertos 130IR inspection drone with demonstration flights scheduled for Q1 2021. (See the 130IR brochure.)


In 2018, I explained the aggressive mission of Digital Aerolus to the CEO of a corporation that inspects energy facilities and supply infrastructure. Here’s what I wrote almost 3 years ago:

“At Digital Aerolus we’ve been engineering our hardware and software vision (for several years). In a nutshell, we’re designing technology that we will deploy to operate all manner of autonomous and manned vehicles.

“We’re a startup in Kansas. Because building cars, planes, or boats to test our navigation technology is out of the question, we decided to begin by engineering UAVs.

Aertos drones navigates an indoor energy plant

Leo’s 2018 video of an Aertos 120 drone navigating an energy plant in Missouri.

“So, we designed the Aertos drones – with the following capabilities:

        • flies with ultra-stability indoors, underground, in the dark, and in & around GPS-denied spaces
        • rugged and durable so industry can rely upon them
        • deploys efficient Bernoulli ducted fan designs with rotors that survive collisions in challenging environments and that keep pilots safe
        • carries high resolution inspection cameras

“This sets us up for advanced capabilities in future drones:

        • a payload-agnostic flying platform that can carry a variety of data gathering sensors
        • a rugged, flexible controller w/ segregated and secure communication & data storage
        • onboard superprocessors with the overhead to handle the autonomous tasks of the future
        • does not rely upon technology from foreign countries
        • extends into navigation systems for any unmanned, manned, or autonomous vehicle

“(We’re doing very well on the 1st 4, and saving 5 thru 9 for later)…”


Foreign companies and technologies continue to dominate the drone market. Unfortunately, relying on foreign companies sometimes arrives at a price: market leader DJI, for example, was recently placed on the U.S. Department of Commerce Entity List, which restricts tech exports by American companies. Not long ago the Department of the Interior grounded its fleet of nearly 1,000 Made-in-China UAVs because “…Chinese spying and cyberattacks could be aided” by drones that are manufactured in China, or that incorporate Chinese-made subsystems or parts.

Buy American may signal the beginnings of a whole new USA ecosystem for drone manufacturing, and it definitely encourages U.S.-based drone manufacturers to continue to innovate in a white-hot commercial UAV industry that’s growing at nearly 14% annually and may triple in the next 3 years.

autonomous indoor GPS denied UAVs designed in Kansas, USA So, as you can imagine, Made In USA is a big deal. Domestic and Euro markets are screaming for American-made UAV technology that’s reliable, predictable, secure, and ready for an unlimited future of behavior-based autonomous missions.

As my kids used to walk out the front door headed for school, sports, or a party, I’d tell them: “Plan your work, and work your plan”. Well, here at DA, we’ve been working our plan for years. And, right according to plan, we proudly design, engineer, and manufacture our UAV products in the United States of America.

Granted, we depend on trusted suppliers from around the world – including China – for core parts, just like nearly every technical company in today’s dynamic worldwide economy.

But, we invent and produce our all-new, ultra stable, home-grown, revolutionary UAV technology right here to be “Made In The USA.”