A drone retailer accused a major drone manufacturer of defrauding the U.S. Army by selling inferior drones that could be outflown by hobby drones at a marked up price.
In a lawsuit filed in Florida, Condor Aerial alleges that Prioria Robotics misrepresented the specifications for its microdrone and also sold refurbished units as new.
Prioria Robotics is a Gainesville, Florida-based company and the manufacturer of the Maveric microdrone. The Maveric microdrone has a 30-inch wingspan, weighs less than 3 pounds, and has a camouflaged “bird-like” profile.
According to Motherboard, Prioria won contracts with the Air Force, Army, Navy and NASA, to manufacture the Maveric drones and accessories. In 2014, the Defense Logistics Agency paid Prioria $24,000 per Maveric unit.
In the lawsuit, Condor Aerial, a former Maveric retailer, asserts that the Maveric drone is operating on old technology and has critical design flaws. Condor also claims that Prioria intentionally misrepresented the drone to increase their profits.
In 2013, Condor signed a contract with Prioria, which made Condor a licensed retailer of the Maveric drone. According to Condor’s court filings, the plan at the time of the contract signing was to have Prioria service the military, while Condor would sell to domestic law enforcement.
According to Condor, Prioria duped them by misrepresenting the specifications for the Maveric drone. The company claims that Prioria’s Maveric drone is a hobby-grade drone sold at a military grade price.
Condor claims that the Maveric drone has capabilities similar to drones that can be purchased at hobby stores or on Amazon.com. The company also claims that some of the drones they found at hobby stores had greater flight times and higher resolution cameras than the Maveric, and cost less than the Maveric.
To support their claims, Condor submitted a sworn statement from a former Prioria employee who worked closely with CEO Bryan Da Frota.
In the sworn statement, Patrick Seidel said, he worked at Prioria from July 2012 to October 2013 and had a desk close to Mr. Da Frota. Seidal also said that Bryan Da Frota “knowingly, deliberately, and purposely falsely represented the technology” to Condor as well as their customers and the federal government.
According to Seidal, the Maveric could not exceed a one-hour flight duration, it had the most basic camera system, and routinely suffered structural damage when it landed on hard surfaces. He claims that the design flaws were intentionally omitted by Da Frota when he was negotiating with the federal government and other potential customers.
Prioria Robotics has not yet responded to Candor Aerial’s claims.
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