According to Business Facilities’ 15th Annual Rankings: State Rankings Report (July/August 2019 Issue), the State of Nevada has maintained its #2 ranked Drone Industry position for a second consecutive year as a national leader in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) outranking other states that have invested tens of millions of dollars in growing their drone industries. This national recognition and endorsement validate the approach Nevada has taken to grow its new Drone Industry.
“This ranking does not come without an industry and community recognizing that Nevada has the operational goods and vision to lead,” said Dr. Chris Walach, Executive Director, Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site. “As the state’s designated agency to manage Nevada’s FAA UAS Test Site, NIAS is proud to position Nevada as the global leader in Autonomous Systems (AS) deployment and is honored for the state to be ranked in one of two top ranking positions in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for a second consecutive year beating last year’s #1 state ranked drone industry,” said Walach.
Nevada’s industry ranking is supported by the State of Nevada standing out with the top three drone operations in the country for 2019 including the NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) Technical Capability Level (TCL) 4, FAA UTM Pilot Program, and the DOT UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) reflecting the aggressive path Nevada has traveled to attain one of two top industry ranked positions. Nevada is also the only state-wide UAS Test Site for the FAA national effort to improve drone safety and integrate these aircraft into the National Airspace System. This statewide UAS testing advantage is partly what enabled Nevada to lead NASA TCL 4 by testing NASA’s airspace platform for the FAA in the downtown urban environment of Reno, Nevada. The Reno Urban Air Mobility hub represents a significant milestone and first in the advancement of beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) and urban air mobility (UAM) technology innovations. This Nevada industry leading initiative also provided an opportunity for over 30 Nevada-based, national, and international industry partners to participate in this NASA operation allowing them to collect critical data to advance and demonstrate their technologies on a globally recognized NASA UTM platform.
“Consistently landing industry initiatives like the top NASA and FAA pilot programs is what securely establishes Nevada as a premier UAS Test Site for international Autonomous Systems Industry proponents to test their technologies and use Reno and Nevada as an entry point for the United States and global markets. Effectively and safely integrating drones into the National Airspace System (NAS) is going to be key to getting public support of drones flying in an urban environment and integrating this innovative technology into the daily lives of the public,” said Walach.
Against the backdrop of this top industry ranking, NIAS was also pleased to announce on September 30, 2019 that NASA selected the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site and NIAS as one of the participants in a joint study to determine the appropriateness of external ranges to conduct NASA’s UAM Grand Challenge (GC) Series. The intent of this study is to ensure NASA is prepared for the future testing of emerging aviation technologies with specific consideration to the GC Series from a operational range perspective. Under this study, NASA will receive inputs on existing and planned localized implementation support for emerging aviation markets, test cases, range requirements for testing these new technologies at the Nevada UAS Test Site, local and state policy considerations specific to testing and operationalizing UAM, and assessment against the known GC Series test range requirements and planned test scenarios. NASA will use the information to understand trade space of emerging markets, implementation options for GC, and to identify unique feature external ranges may bring to the GC Series. NIAS is actively seeking urban partners to identify potential external ranges to participate in this study.
“NASA’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Grand Challenge (GC) Series is the latest in a series of historic milestones the Nevada UAS Test Site and NIAS have been proud to support and lead with our Nevada-based drone businesses. A special thanks for the support of the UAM Grand Challenges Series goes to City of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, the Reno City Manager’s Office, and Nevada’s federal congressional delegation, specifically U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen. The state drone industry ranking and the latest win for the State of Nevada would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of our Nevada drone businesses, and the local, state, and federal support to NIAS at every crossroad or industry tipping point. The industry and community support are vital for ensuring we continue to advance on a national level and that we give our Nevada drone businesses the right tools and resources to support their successes,” said Walach.