Background & Services


Carolina Unmanned Vehicles develops and produces small mobile aerostat systems. Aerostats are basically tethered blimps, which along with their required ground equipment and payloads, provide a versatile long endurance platform for a variety of military, Homeland Security, law enforcement and other missions. Aerostats provide unrivalled persistence, coverage area, and low cost.

The CUV mobile aerostat systems are designed to use a lifting aerostat, which is an aerostat with aerodynamic lifting surfaces in addition to the helium buoyancy. We use the Helikite lifting aerostat, the most mature and best performing lifting aerostat on the market. Using a lifting aerostat allows us to use small aerostats, sized to modern lightweight payloads, and still operate in real world weather conditions. Traditional aerostats are easily driven into the ground by wind, and cannot be made small to take advantage of modern electronics.

CUV Lightweight Aerostat Systems carry lightweight, electrically powered payloads to operating altitudes up to several thousand feet, depending upon the mission. Surveillance missions typically require altitudes of 300 to 500 feet while communications missions often require several thousand feet.
Aerostat systems consists of the aerostat, airborne safety devices, a winch for the tether, ground mooring system, electrical generation system, and payloads. Payloads may be gyro-stabilized Electro Optic and / or Infra Red (EO/IR) cameras with a ground control station, communications relays, and intelligence collection payloads.

The system is self contained with all equipment to deploy and operate the system in a single unit, either a wheeled dolly for smaller systems or a on a single HMMWV trailer for larger systems. Systems are designed for rapid launch and retrieval by only two people. Once inflated and launched they can provide operation while on the move, in open country with no overhead power lines or other obstructions.


We provide two principal services, which are offered separately or in combination across our customer base:

  • Research and Development of systems and aerostats and UAV components, and
  • Flight testing of customer payloads on CUV’s in-house aerostat system.

Research and Development We can conduct R and D of new aerostat versions, including adapting the design to new platforms such as Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV), or to new payloads and missions. CUV is committed to developing innovative products through focused R&D. From the company’s very beginning, CUV has been working closely with our customers to ensure that our innovative spirit is focused on solutions for REAL customer needs. We ensure that our customers are provided the level of service and customer support that is consistent with the quality of our products. Our staff advises on and helps solve issues involved in matching payloads to particular aerostat sizes, incorporating payloads into the overall system, and recommend aerostat systems that will not only fulfill your needs, but also best fit your budget.

Flight Testing CUV’s in-house Lightweight Aerostat System can be used for field testing of communications and surveillance payloads, provide a long endurance surrogate for other platforms such as UAVs, or support training activities. Flight test operations can be conducted at our Raleigh, North Carolina location or deployed to a customer site. The system is trailer mounted so deployment within one or two days driving of North Carolina is straightforward. Locations further away usually require shipping.