Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a groundbreaking agreement between NASA and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance to grow the drone industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley. The agreement formalizes a partnership in support of two elements of the State's Unmanned Aerial Systems strategy: the launch of the world's first 50-mile Unmanned Traffic Management Corridor and creation of NUSTAR, the most comprehensive UAS test facility in the nation. The announcement was made prior to a demonstration of the first phase of the UTM Corridor in operation, a breakthrough infrastructure asset intending to unlock beyond-visual-line-of-sight commercial operations. That exhibition highlighted the State's commitment to the burgeoning industry and what has become the most advanced drone testing corridor in the nation.
"With this groundbreaking partnership and our $30 million investment for the most advanced drone testing in the country, we are establishing Central New York and the Mohawk Valley as the premiere destination for businesses at the forefront of innovation," Governor Cuomo said. "By investing in this cutting-edge technology, we are creating a pathway to grow the upstate economy and create good-paying, quality jobs in the industries of the future."
The development of the drone corridor is expected to unlock a trillion-dollar global industry and attract businesses development and new drone technology to the state, specifically in Central New York. Dividends are already paying off, as regionally based SRC Incorporated plans to initially hire 50 engineers following its announcement of a $65 million contract with the U.S. Army to develop a system to detect and defeat small drones. Additionally, the company plans to add up to 1000 new hires over the next five years thanks in large part to the state's investment in the UAS industry which is working to create an ecosystem that will attract companies to Central New York. There are nearly 200 companies from across the world exploring investment opportunities in the region.
New York's Investments in the Drone Industry
These opportunities build on the explosion in demand at the NUAIR-managed test site in Rome, and New York State's investments in the drone sector. In the past year, 645 test flights were conducted at the test site, a tenfold increase from the year before. In 2016, Empire State Development invested $30 million in the 50-mile drone test corridor between Syracuse and Rome in the form of a CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative Grant. Governor Cuomo has also invested $10 million in GENIUS NY, one of the world's largest business competitions focused on unmanned systems, cross-connected platforms and other technology-based sectors. In 2015, as part of the round four CFA, the State invested $4 million to install state-of-the-art surveillance and airport surface radar equipment at Griffiss Airport.
New York State also made a related $5 million URI investment in Gryphon Sensors, a company based in Central New York that has developed a state-of-the-art mobile Unmanned Traffic Management system called Mobile Skylight, which provides three dimensional detection of low-flying, small, UAS at a distance of out to 10 kilometers. The unit is a complete mobile command center featuring 4x4 off-road capability that can be taken anywhere without a commercial driver's license and is for rapid deployment for a wide range of applications, including stadium, special event security, first responder and search and rescue operations as well as infrastructure and utility inspection.
NASA said, "NASA's agreement with NUAIR will provide mutual benefit in advancing UAS traffic management technologies that will foster innovation and commercialization of this new aviation industry. Our collaboration will support deploying a UAS traffic management system in the UTM corridor and Test Site, and give NASA opportunities for testing to advance research and development in critical technologies such as communication, navigation, and large scale UAS traffic management."