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States Vie for a Lucrative Chunk of Emerging Drone Industry

With the FAA opening airspace to commercial drones in 2015, competitive states use conference to help build case to be testing and development sites.

Bridget Johnson


August 14, 2013 - 7:40 pm
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WASHINGTON — With hundreds of unmanned technology firms crammed into the massive exhibit hall at Washington’s Convention Center this week, a handful of states hoping to lure the emerging technology to their home turf joined the exhibition booths at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference.

North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Minnesota were among the more than 600 exhibitors, urging attendees from across the world to take a look at their corner of the U.S. as a prime spot to set down roots and grow their drone business. Utah beckoned passers-by with a giant air-filled Bigfoot wielding a drone. And from our neighbors to the north, Alberta was bucking for business as well.

Over at the Idaho booth, which was backdropped with a sunny landscape photo and stocked with Idaho businessmen in the aviation industry, one adviser to the state’s Department of Commerce said their focus is using the technology to benefit agriculture, water resources, fish and game, fire sciences and more.

“What works in one region may not work here,” said Steve Edgar, president and CEO of aviation firm ADAVSO, stressing that they’re promoting unmanned vehicles for uses that aid the welfare of their area.

He compared the benefits vs. privacy argument to the debate over the tradeoffs for TSA security.

“This is nothing new,” Edgar said. “Concern for privacy is always at the forefront of new technology.”

“We’re pro-UAS business. We’ve been flying tests for 15 years,” he added. “You want to see it used safely.”

Commerce Director Jeff Sayer lauded the tech wave coming to his state and recommended that its integration be embraced.

“We see that as a wide-open opportunity,” he said.

Sayer said it’s essential to “assure citizens they would be protected” in terms of privacy rights and carefully move forward to “demonstrate to people, look, we’re not crossing the line.”

“If our entire nation embraced that, everyone would benefit,” he said.

Being at the sprawling conference helps the unmanned systems industry “realize we really are a player,” Sayer added.

AUVSI has estimated that the drone industry could create 100,000 jobs by 2025, depending on legislative efforts to stem the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Idaho has tried to get out in front of the privacy concerns by this spring becoming the second state in the nation to enact restrictions on unwarranted surveillance. By tackling privacy fears from the outset, the state hopes to concentrate on pressing forward with accelerated development of drone technology and testing.


Commerce Department business attraction specialist Eric Forsch mans Idaho’s booth.

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As the Obama family opens up the cookie jar and takes out a few bills to invest in the so-called drone industry, the FAA sure knows better than to place anything in their way.

Drones have open up entirely new ways of killing pain-in-the-ashes around the globe...P-I-T-A's for short.

Obama has had a lot of personal experience with whacking P-I-T-A's all around the Middle-East, and cannot help but want to be investing in the ground floor of an entirely new industry dedicated to removing P-I-T-A' - his, and eventually, those bothering Obama administration czars and czarettes.

Eventually, this is a segment of industry where it may come to pass that even the most low down common peons could afford to save up a few dollars to purchase a cheap drone to dispose of folks that they don't like.

Drones for the common man could become as big a financial boon as microchips and computers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just out of curiosity, what makes these drones any more intrusive than the airplanes and helicopters law enforcement offices are flying now? I'm old enough to remember those painted lines appear across the highways and wonder what they were for. Then I started noticing the signs stating speed limits enforced by aircraft. Today, our County Sheriff has two helicopters that also double as med-evac choppers. We often see them flying over local neighborhoods supporting vehicles on the ground in searches for fleeing suspects or looking for missing persons. I remember when the Sheriff first got one. People were calling it Duff's (the sheriff at the time) Air Force and making fun of it. They were also making the same comments about them that I am now hearing about the drones.

I don't see a problem with the larger drones being used for traffic and such much as the helicopters are used now. The drones I do have a problem with are the tiny ones, not much larger than an insect that are nothing more than a flying spy-cam. Those are the ones that must be watched and regulated the most.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"State Sen. Tony Grindberg (R), an aerospace business manager, came to D.C. to support the effort, saying “education” will shape people’s opinions of unmanned technology as development and test sites come into shape."

Meaning, "We'll mount a PR campaign about the benefits, marginalize the opponents as whackos, and pretty much brainwash the mindless populace to trade even more liberty for some shiny trinkets. And the fools will fall for it."

And he's right.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yep, just like they did with those infernal 'horseless carriages'.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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