GRAND FORKS, ND – Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will have important benefits for North Dakota’s farmers, first responders and overall economy, according to elected officials and industry leaders speaking at a press conference today. In advance of the 8th Annual UAS Action Summit, the Red River Valley Research Corridor, the Association for Unmanned Systems International (AUVSI) and Grand Forks Sheriff’s Department hosted a media briefing and flight demonstration highlighting the many benefits UAS offer to public safety agencies. Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley, Director of the University of North Dakota’s UAS Center Al Palmer, and Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI joined to congratulate North Dakota for its leadership in the UAS industry and to underscore the potential impact of this technology.
“Our state has long been a pioneer in this technology, from the University of North Dakota offering the first degree in UAS, to now hosting one of six UAS test sites for the FAA,” said Palmer. “Because of the work of the Grand Forks Sheriff’s Department, University of North Dakota, Northern Plains UAS Test Site and Red River Valley Research Corridor, North Dakota is poised to benefit tremendously from this technology and continue to be a leader in the field for years to come.”
As a national leader in UAS advancement, North Dakota is positioned to benefit from the growth of this industry once UAS are integrated into the national airspace. An AUVSI study released last year projected an $83 million economic impact in North Dakota in the decade following integration. The industry will also have an impact nationwide, creating a projected $82 billion impact and 100,000 jobs nationwide.
“Whether it is helping a farmer survey his fields, performing pipeline inspections for a gas company, or keeping first responders safe, UAS are a valuable tool that can help save time, save money, and save lives,” said Toscano. “In addition, as an FAA test site, North Dakota is playing an important role in the integration process, and the research done here will help ensure that UAS are able to be safely integrated into the national airspace.”
In December of 2013, North Dakota was announced as one of the six FAA UAS test sites that will participate in research as part of the integration process. In April of this year, the test site became operational and has already begun flights.
"We are very proud of our region's accomplishments in UAS and look forward to working with the FAA to help solve the complicated technical and procedural challenges required to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into our national airspace system,” said Robert Becklund, director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. “It is an exciting time in history and we are equally excited to be able to play such a significant role in this new age in aviation.”
About the Red River Valley Research Corridor
The Red River Valley Research Corridor is a non-profit corporation in North Dakota. It is committed to catalyzing and promoting science, technology, training and engineering initiatives that create new economic opportunities in the Upper Great Plains region.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics — represents more than 7,000 members from 60 allied countries involved in the fields of government, industry and academia.