New York Gov. Kathy Hochul this week announced that the state plans to research the use of drones enabled with 5G wireless technology.
The research will be conducted along a 50-mile corridor, running between Syracuse and Rome, that opened in 2019. The work will be led by the Open Generation 5G Consortium, a group of government agencies, academics and private companies convened by the MITRE Corporation. State officials said the new corridor will be used, among other things, to test that 5G wireless networks meet aviation safety requirements.
Hochul claimed this testing range will be the first in the nation to focus on 5G drones and will redound to the state’s reputation as a leader in cutting-edge technologies.
The governor’s office named agriculture, forest management, transportation, film development, utilities and public safety as industries that could benefit from improved drone technology. MITRE has been testing use cases in package delivery, emergency response, infrastructure inspection and asset management.
Rome is already home to the New York State Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, one of seven national test sites designated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The test site at Griffiss Air Force Base includes a repurposed airplane hangar, called the Sky Dome, used to test artificial intelligence-based flight controls and swarms of small drones.
The corridor is managed by the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, a member of the MITRE group, which has been developing drones that can be safely operated beyond human line-of-sight. The alliance’s website says that it’s conducted more than 3,700 drone test flights.
Hochul also said that New York has invested about $70 million in drone technology over the past five years.