Localities make their plays for unmanned systems growth

Amazon may be testing its drones in Canada, but U.S. localities are working hard to get in on the unmanned systems action.

In Utah, an array of public and private organizations have joined to form the Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance (MWUSA).  The goal is to establish the state as a viable hub for commercial use of unmanned aerial systems.

MWUSA membership currently includes the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Utah Film Commission, Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, Utah Valley University and several local film and video production companies. The group is reaching out to qualified local public agencies, educational instructions and private companies for membership opportunities.

“We want to make the State of Utah the example of responsible commercial use of unmanned aerial systems,” said Ryan Wood, Marketing Manager of Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems and president of the MWUSA. “There are so many applications for these vehicles that can have an immediate impact on the local economy and public safety in general.”

In Oregon, meanwhile, the state government is investing $545,000 for an UAS test range in Pendleton, a small town some 200 miles east of Portland.  CivSource reported that the total cost is projected at $1.8 million, and will involve "four to six hangars, storage, and communications equipment" intended to "attract private sector drone developers and servicers."

And in California, the GoMentum Station test-bed site at the retired Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) will play host to Honda to test driverless technologies. 

GoMentum Station, a 5,000-acre facility, is the largest secure test-bed of its kind, located northeast of San Francisco on the Suisun Bay. The CNWS was officially closed in 2007 and is currently in the process of being transferred to the City of Concord.  GoMentum Station contains 20-miles of paved, city-like roadway grids, buildings and other urban infrastructure, providing a realistic environment that will help accelerate the development of automated and connected vehicle technologies.  The public will not have access to the test-bed site, and the automated vehicle testing will be restricted to GoMentum Station.

Honda also plans to participate in a consortium committed to making Contra Costa County home to a premier testing facility for automated driving technologies.

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