North Dakota, Utah looking to invest in UAV technology, infrastructure

May 6, 2019

Investments to support beyond visual line of sight operations, LiDAR technology

Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota recently announced the state's $33 million investment in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry, in partnership with the North Dakota Dept. of Commerce.

According to a report from Business Facilities, a majority of these investments will be used to build out infrastructure to support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations for drones across the state.

The statewide BVLOS network will equip state agencies, local communities and commercial sectors with UAS efficiencies. It will supply the infrastructure required to command and control drones and the required surveillance equipment to support the safe integration of unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. The $33 million investment includes $28 million for statewide BVLOS infrastructure, $3 million to upgrade infrastructure at Grand Sky business development park and $2 million to support operations of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.

Around the same time, the Utah DOT (UDOT) also has said it is in the process of purchasing a $180K surveying drone with connecting LiDAR technology. 

In the past, UDOT has hired outside contractors to use UAS tech, but now is looking to obtain its own drone. The drone and connecting technology would help the agency survey cracks in roadways, vulnerable avalanche areas, and even predict where landslides may occur. 

The drone UDOT is looking to purchase is around $5,000, but the connecting laser imaging hardware and software accounts for the remainder of the cost. The agency is hoping the purchase is finalized by the end of June.


Source: Business Facilities / KUTV