The announcement last week of a new partnership between the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Nevada State College has significant implications for commercial drone use in populated areas, a top official believes.
“Since the city of Henderson site is so close to the Las Vegas Strip, this proximity provides a great opportunity for drone conventions or high technology conferences like CES to conduct demonstration test flights or UAS demonstrations of innovative drone technology,” said Chris Walach, director for the FAA-designated Nevada Unmanned Aviation Test Site and the director of technical operations for the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems, via email.
The proximity to the Strip will also attract additional startups and UAS businesses, Walach said.
“There is tremendous access to a large population, advanced technology facilities at the Nevada State College and other Nevada Higher Education campuses, and there is incredible logistic support available to meet any drone need,” he said.Eventually, Henderson will become a stop in the air corridor, Walach said. The corridor will bridge Southern Nevada and Northern Nevada while creating opportunity for the different industries surrounding the select drone in and out ports.
Walach said the air corridor is an 18 month to 24 month project.
“Working through the FAA, there is a detailed process we have to go through for reviews and ultimately approval,” he said.
Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems is already counting on the airport authorities at Silver Springs, Reno Stead, Hawthorne, Tonopah and Beatty to be part of the air corridor. “Selecting a Southern Nevada location will enhance our existing network of places where long-distance drone flights can recharge, refuel, or conduct resupply operations before flying to their next destination,” Walach said.
Walach said it will still take time for drones to be flying from one point to another, but his team is “very near” finishing the ground infrastructure that will eventually become the foundation for the corridor.