Gov. Cuomo Announces NASA, NUAIR Deal to Grow New York’s UAS Industry

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Today, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new agreement between NASA and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) to grow the drone industry in central New York and the Mohawk Valley.

The agreement formalizes a partnership in support of two elements of the state’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) strategy: the launch of a 50-mile Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) Corridor and the creation of NUSTAR, a comprehensive UAS test facility.

The announcement was made prior to a demonstration of the first phase of the UTM Corridor in operation, which is designed for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

“With this groundbreaking partnership and our $30 million investment for the most advanced drone testing in the country, we are establishing central New York and the Mohawk Valley as the premiere destination for businesses at the forefront of innovation,” Cuomo said at today’s event. “By investing in this cutting-edge technology, we are creating a pathway to grow the upstate economy and create good-paying, quality jobs in the industries of the future.”

NASA said, “NASA’s agreement with NUAIR will provide mutual benefit in advancing UAS traffic management technologies that will foster innovation and commercialization of this new aviation industry. Our collaboration will support deploying a UAS traffic management system in the UTM corridor and test site and give NASA opportunities for testing to advance research and development in critical technologies such as communication, navigation and large-scale UAS traffic management.”

Lawrence H. Brinker, interim president and CEO of the NUAIR Alliance, noted, “The successful launch of the drone corridor marks the first of its kind in the nation, sending an important message about our region’s leadership, innovation and commercialization capabilities in this sector. Further coupled with the investments made by New York State, the region is positioned to be the single best place for the research and development associated with growing the UAS sector.”

Today’s announcement complements Central NY Rising, the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate economic growth and community development. The state has already invested more than $4.7 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan. Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million state investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Cuomo in December 2015.

In 2016, Empire State Development invested $30 million in the 50-mile drone test corridor between Syracuse and Rome in the form of a CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant. Cuomo has also invested $10 million in GENIUS NY, a business competition focused on unmanned systems, cross-connected platforms and other technology-based sectors. In 2015, the state also invested $4 million to install new surveillance and airport surface radar equipment at Griffiss Airport, where New York’s federally designated UAS test site is located. New York State also recently made a related $5 million investment in Gryphon Sensors, a central New York-based company that has developed a mobile UTM system called Mobile Skylight, which provides 3D detection of low-flying, small UAS at a distance of out to 10 kilometers.

“The partnership at work in New York to implement the UTM corridor is writing another chapter in aviation’s rich history of innovation,” added Dan Elwell, the FAA’s deputy administrator. “Allowing safe, beyond visual line of sight UAS operations through detection of manned and unmanned vehicles is the critical next step toward fully recognizing the benefits of this new technology.”

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