The Center of Excellence is designed to lead the expansion of the autonomous systems industry in Virginia. “The autonomous systems industry is one of the cornerstones of the new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. Virginia is home to a vast array of autonomy related assets located across the Commonwealth, as well as an FAA test site (Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership). Virginia has garnered a reputation as a leader in autonomous systems with industry estimates consistently placing the Commonwealth among the top 10 states positioned to reap the largest economic benefit from the industry’s $82 billion forecasted economic impact through 2025. The newly established Center will serve as the ombudsman and advocate for this industry in the Commonwealth and will as act as a champion for the development and deployment of all aspects of the autonomous systems industry.
Virginia’s position as a leading state for the unmanned industry was further highlighted and promoted this week at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle System International “Xponential” event in Dallas. Governor Terry McAuliffe and members from his administration, along with the Unmanned Systems Association of Virginia (USAV), touted the Commonwealth’s vast array of autonomy-related assets and business-friendly regulatory environment.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says that more than 770,000 drone owners have registered to fly in U.S. airspace. That’s up from the 670,000 figure FAA chief Michael Huerta shared during his talk at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the start of 2017. It also means that 100,000 drone owners have newly registered with the agency in less than three months.
The FAA first opened its drone registration system just over 15 months ago, in December 2015. Only weeks after the registration system started operating, the FAA announced that more than 181,000 drone owners had registered in its database.
To put that in perspective, Huerta said last year that the FAA currently counts around 320,000 manned aircraft registered with the agency, but that registration system has been operating for about 100 years. Drones have had registration requirements for not quite two years.
Drones might be most commonly associated with security and public safety missions—but they’re also helping with everything from distance learning to scientific research. Read on for our Unmanned Systems team’s top ten list of the most surprising examples of drones at work: