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ND UAS test site to collaborate with NASA

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced today that Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site has recently completed a research initiative with NASA in the implementation, operation and maintenance of UAS Traffic Management (UTM) systems in the National Airspace System.

The Northern Plains UAS Test Site conducted research flights flown 10 miles south Grand Forks simulating UAS flights supporting the precision agriculture and electrical utility industries. The NASA UTM system supports a variety of uses, including package deliveries, farmland surveys, powerline/power pole inspections, search and rescue operations, video surveillance operations and runway, railway and bridge inspections.

“Representatives from NASA worked directly with the Test Site and our partners to test their latest build of their UTM system,” Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site Nicholas Flom said. “North Dakota’s partnership with NASA is helping to drive crucial research that will assist the FAA in implementing UTM for all UAS users in the NAS.”

Flom explained that all the flight partners in this NASA collaboration are North Dakota based companies. Flights partners included SkySkopes(Grand Forks), ISight RPV Services (Grand Forks), Unmanned Applications Institute (Grand Forks) and Botlink (Fargo). Simulyze, based in Reston, VA, served as the software partner on the project.

“Initiatives such as this collaboration with NASA continue to demonstrate the strength of our expanding UAS industry cluster, which will diversify and grow the state’s economy,” Governor Doug Burgum said. “This research with NASA illustrates that North Dakota is building an environment where companies and new entrepreneurs are developing the future of unmanned aviation. North Dakota is on the cutting edge of the UAS industry, and we remain committed to developing our state into a national hub for UAS research, development and commercialization.”

Gov. Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford lead the state’s efforts to expand UAS operations, research and development, education and training in North Dakota. North Dakota has invested over $43 million to advance UAS research and development and is collaborating with organizations statewide to build this emerging industry. Within its borders, North Dakota already has all the components needed to support UAS education, training, research and commercialization. 

On December 30, 2013, North Dakota was selected as one of six FAA test sites that will conduct crucial research that will assist the FAA in developing regulatory standards to foster integration of UAS into the national airspace. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site became the first site to begin flights in May 2014. As a FAA UAS Test Site location, North Dakota positions itself at the forefront of the burgeoning UAS industry.