Nevada launches Drone Center of Excellence to support public safety

July 31, 2018  - By
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The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) has launched of the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence for Public Safety (NDCOE), according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

NDCOE’s mission is to save lives and reduce air hazards from drone incursions by empowering a shared safety vision with the the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) integration of drones into the commercial air traffic system.

Located in Las Vegas, with facilities donated by technology infrastructure company Switch, NDCOE will provide safety incursion research data, drone technology best practices and educational materials.

The new center will conduct public workshops that promote and protect the public’s safety and privacy in an open and ethical manner.

Over the last decade, UAS, more commonly referred to as drones, have experienced an unprecedented boom within aviation. Coinciding with the increase in popularity, incidents involving drones in tourist areas, as well as risks to larger manned aircraft are on the rise and present high-liability risks to property owners.

Safe and successful UAS operations rely on quality training, end user education and maximizing public safety processes. To protect and educate residents and visitors, the center seeks to protect against drone users who pose a public safety hazard due to inexperience or malicious drone operations. Such hazards include drones hitting people or that have the potential to cause an airline disaster, and drone operations that violate safety, privacy or drone laws near high-traffic public places, at airports, near military bases or near critical infrastructure.

NDCOE will also advance drone surveillance, detect and avoid (remote sensing), wildland firefighting, gas-leak detection, and time-sensitive medical delivery technologies for life-saving medical equipment and organs.

“In addition to fostering major advances in UAS technology with testing partners like the FAA, NASA and Switch, Nevada is also home to the most registered drone users in the nation in Las Vegas,” said Paul Anderson, executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “This dynamic makes such a program as the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence for Public Safety a natural step as drones increasingly become a bigger part of our daily lives.”

In a recent state-wide Nevada Drone Industry survey by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and NIAS, the NDCOE received support to open the first center of its kind in the U.S. In the survey, almost 80% of respondents were concerned about a recreational drone hitting an airline and causing an airline disaster, and almost 90% were concerned about aerial drones illegally penetrating FAA airspace without authorization at outdoor events such as sports stadium, concert or at large events.

“We are taking an aggressive approach toward solving the complex UAS Industry challenge of mitigating drone incursions into the National Airspace System — one of the toughest FAA challenges today,” said Chris Walach, senior director, NIAS and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site. “What we are doing in Nevada will be of immense value to the DOT, FAA, DHS, DOJ, commercial airlines, visitor venues, and the UAS Industry. This new center will help advance infrastructure protections, drone detection innovations, enhance air safety, and expand air commerce in Nevada.”

NIAS and the FAA-designated Nevada Unmanned Aviation Test Site lead the growth of the Nevada UAS industry through business teaming relationships, collaborating with primary research institutions on UAS research and development, and enhancing the Nevada UAS Industry knowledge base to attract new and permanent business and create jobs in the State of Nevada.

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