North Dakota Governor proposes USD30 million investment to support BVLOS operations

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has announced a USD30 million proposal to build an infrastructure network to support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) across North Dakota.

The proposal is part of his executive budget recommendation for the 2019-21 biennium, submitted to the state Legislature on 5 December.

According to a press statement: “The investment would establish a statewide BVLOS network to enable UAS efficiencies for state agencies, local communities and the commercial sector, including automated farming and precision agriculture. It would supply the infrastructure required for the command and control of UAS and the required surveillance equipment to safely integrate manned and unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System.

“Subject matter experts within the state, including at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, would work with federal agencies to ensure regulatory compliance. The executive budget also will propose USD3 million to upgrade infrastructure at Grand Sky and USD3 million to support operations at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.”

“These investments will ensure that North Dakota remains America’s proving ground for UAS while also enabling commercial operations, which is good for our economy and taxpayers,” Burgum said. “We have gifted researchers, entrepreneurs and technology right here in North Dakota – as well as natural attributes such as open skies, variable climate, agriculture and energy – to diversify our economy and continue our trajectory as a national leader in UAS.”

North Dakota has already invested over USD44 million to advance UAS research and development, and the state currently has about 40 companies focused on UAS or that have UAS functions, products or relationships in their business models, according to the Department of Commerce

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