The 50-mile drone testing corridor which runs from Central New York to the Mohawk Valley has been declared open, three years after the project was launched with USD30 million initial funding from New York State (NYS). With the infrastructure now in place, companies will be able to test both unmanned aerial systems platforms and UTM technologies in real world settings, generating data that will inform the industry and regulators and taking us one step closer towards the routine commercial use of drones. The completion of the corridor advances the regions’ collective strategy to accelerate and support emerging uses of UAS in key industries, including agriculture and forest management, transportation and logistics, media and film development, utilities and infrastructure and public safety.
The first segment of the corridor received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly unmanned aircraft beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) a week earlier, allowing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) aircraft testing without the need for ground-based observers. The eight-by-four-mile section of airspace that was approved for these flights is between Griffiss International Airport and the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. The strategic selection of this airspace within the corridor opens the door for future advancements of the corridor and the continued cooperation between the programme developers: Oneida County, Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) and New York State.
Many local and international companies performed ground-breaking work on the development and deployment of the test corridor including SRC, the C&S Companies, AX Enterprizes, Unifly, Thales, OneSky, ANRA and Airmap.
Alongside completion of the test corridor, NYS also announced expansion of the Tech Garden in Downtown Syracuse, home of the GENIUS NY UAS competition. The expansion will allow the Tech Garden to house 100 resident-members and allow space for the incubators’ 200 virtual-members; will help the incubator to attract more UAS and technical innovators; establish programs for mature company innovation and support the targeted Drone Zone which will include dedicated spaces that will cater to UAS industry businesses that want to move to the region. The GENIUS NY UAS competition is now entering its fourth round, with 19 semi-finalists selected to take part in the mentoring opportunity announced in early November.
Additionally, in support of the growing drone industry in the region, NUAIR is launching the NY UAS Public Private Partnership Program (NYFLY), which is aimed at spurring the adoption of UAS technologies into state and local government operations. The first in the nation competition will encourage and seed partnerships between public entities and firms to advance a series of priority use cases, including but not limited to:
- First responders and public safety;
- Infrastructure inspection and construction;
- Counter UAS and critical infrastructure protection;
- Forest and environmental monitoring;
- Public Health; and,
- Statewide UTM adoption and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) infrastructure
NUAIR plans to open NYFLY to the first round of pilot project applications in early 2020.
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