One of the nation’s seven federally supported drone testing sites — New York’s — made key selections of private sector partners this week that will aid researchers as they strive for safe operation of the aircraft beyond visual line-of-sight.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, which oversees a 50-mile drone corridor that runs from Syracuse to Rome, awarded contracts to Gryphon Sensors and defense contractor Raytheon as part of a $30 million investment to spur industry growth and improve public trust as companies like Amazon and Domino’s Pizza await regulations that would allow them to use the technology as a regular delivery method.
The vendors will help plan, design, implement and support what the state is calling a “state-of-the-art [drone traffic management] research, development, test and evaluation infrastructure.”
In an interview with StateScoop last year, NUAIR Alliance Interim CEO Larry Brinker explained that the goal is to create a framework infrastructure for drone operation that could someday be adopted on a wide scale.
There is no consensus among experts on precisely how drone traffic should be integrated into the national airspace, but researchers generally agree that some form of low-altitude traffic management, like NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system, will be necessary before unmonitored drones are permitted for wide-scale commercial use.
In a separate announcement Wednesday, Cuomo also announced that the state had launched the third round of a business accelerator program for drone companies, called GeniusNY, in an attempt to further stimulate economic growth in the region. Six finalists will be selected for a yearlong residency at CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in Syracuse and will receive more than $5 million in investment.