Thales and North Dakota Department of Commerce sign MoU for drone integration

Thales and the North Dakota Department of Commerce have entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further expand the Nation’s First Statewide Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Network.

In addition to expanding Vantis, the agreement formalizes the strategic relationship between Thales, North Dakota and the Northern Plains Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Test Site (NPUASTS) where they will work together on technology solutions to grow the autonomous systems sector across the state and beyond, says the press release.

Efforts have demonstrated notable advances in applying automation and UAS technologies to advance medical supply and device delivery by drone to operations that support precision agriculture. North Dakota has positioned itself as a leader in autonomous systems integration especially in the aviation sector. With USD48M invested over the past two biennium in Vantis, the state and Thales are demonstrating the effectiveness of deploying sensor technology and integrated systems making this a key differentiator for the region.

A major barrier to commercial UAS, or drone, flights – package deliveries, infrastructure inspections, search and rescue efforts – is that UAS currently must remain within visual line of sight of the pilot. By using radar, radios, and other communications equipment on towers distributed throughout the state, Vantis can provide command, control, and situational awareness to UAS pilots. With Vantis, UAS pilots can see and avoid obstacles as well as fly safely at a distance – which will result in commercial UAS flights that are economically feasible and scalable.

“The partnership between Thales and North Dakota in the BVLOS development is a significant step towards advancing autonomous technologies,” Commerce Commissioner Josh Teigen said.

The Northern Plains UAS Test Site is an official Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-designed UAS test site. Established in 2014, NPUASTS works with FAA in developing and enabling UAS operations in a safe and efficient manner.

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