AUVSI was established in 1972 when the use of target drones as reconnaissance assets during the Vietnam War prompted a group of U.S. Air Force officers and contractors in Dayton, Ohio to form the National Association of Remotely Piloted Vehicles (NARPV), which would later become known as AUVSI.
By the end of the war the potential for unmanned systems technology was evident and the momentum of industry growth was moving quickly. In 1974, the Wright Kettering Chapter in Ohio hosted the first national symposium, which was met with great success.
By the late 1970s, RPVs were being called Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs). The newly recognized term “unmanned” encompassed more than air vehicles, and recognition of the growing developments in the ground, maritime and space arenas caused the organization to broaden its reach. In 1978, the NARPV expanded its focus and services to create a community inclusive of all unmanned systems disciplines. At that time the organization changed its name to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVS). The organization continued to thrive, and in 1982 the headquarters moved from Dayton to Washington, DC.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, AUVS mirrored the fast pace of growth of the worldwide unmanned systems industry, and the need for the organization’s services began to reach far beyond Washington, D.C. In 1996, the AUVS became the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) to reflect the true scope of the organization.
By 2003, AUVSI’s global activities led to the creation of the International Opportunities Program (IOP), a campaign to raise awareness of AUVSI, increase member services and strengthen the worldwide network of the unmanned systems industry. The program was successful, and AUVSI’s global activities are now a fundamental part of the association’s operations. International outreach is no longer referred to as the IOP.