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UAV Test Zones –Let the Competition Begin

Written by on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) continues to dominate the headlines nowadays and during the week of 12 August 2013, the world converged on the capitol city of Washington D.C. to attend the largest UAV conference in the world. During the conference a large contingent of state sponsored booths were on display to market the benefits to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in choosing their respective states to be one of the six sites selected to become one of the UAV Test Zones.

The FAA has been ordered by Congress to choose six sites across the United States to become one of the UAV Test Zones. The UAV Test Zones selected will become the centers of unmanned vehicle testing and will stand to win big with an industry that continues to grow. UAVs are largely thought to be military vehicles for intelligence gathering and weapon employment but UAVs are expanding into the civilian side and are being used for terrain mapping, fire observation, wildlife conservation and largely being adopted by law enforcement agencies for search activities.

Many states are competing to become one of the UAV Test Zones and the list includes Utah, California, North Dakota, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Florida, Maryland, Virginia and Wyoming. The list of candidates will be judged by the FAA to decide which test center will provide the best solution for range space, engineering support, technical support, proximity to industry partners, and proximity to military bases and of course the test center that is best suited to investing in the future.

The FAA is expected to name its choices in December and the six sites will serve as the country’s hub for UAV testing for decades to come. The choice will undoubtedly be a difficult one and it would be naiveté to think that politics won’t enter into the decision making but with the future of UAV development in the balance, the decision should be based solely on merit.

 

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