With the addition of 11 new members, the Unmanned Systems Association of Virginia (USAV), a nonprofit coalition of companies in the unmanned systems industry, has more than doubled its size since the group’s inception in 2016.
The new entities, which join the organization’s 10 founding members, represent ground, aerial and maritime interests in the unmanned systems industry: AEP; Aerospace Corp.; Draper Aden Associates; Dronicar Inc.; E.J. Wade Construction; Innovation, Technology and Business Solutions LLC; James Madison University; Ligado Networks; Perrone Robotics; Starship Technologies; and Virginia Tech.
Kevin Pomfret, executive director of USAV, says, “Interest in unmanned systems, including driverless cars and drones, is increasing throughout Virginia, across the nation and around the world. The addition of 11 new members to USAV further unites the unmanned systems industry in the commonwealth and highlights the important roles states will play. Our combined voice strengthens our ability to effectively influence legislation that maintains Virginia’s business-friendly regulatory environment.”
A representative from Draper Aden Associates, James Madison University and Virginia Tech will each hold a seat on the USAV board of directors.
Mark Blanks, director of Virginia’s Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), home to one of the federal drone test sites, says, “At Virginia Tech and the Virginia UAS test site, we apply innovative, world-class research to enable groundbreaking operations and inform the regulatory framework that will support full UAS integration. This aligns seamlessly with the mission of the Unmanned Systems Association of Virginia, and we are thrilled to work together collaboratively to move the industry forward and cement Virginia’s reputation as an unparalleled environment for UAS development.”
“Drones and other unmanned systems have the ability to revolutionize the way we live and do business,” adds Nick Swayne, director of 4-VA at James Madison University. “Now is the time to capitalize on the rapidly growing unmanned systems industry to ensure that Virginia is a leader in research, testing and production of unmanned technology.”
The association’s key objectives include promoting Virginia’s UAS test site, unmanned systems research and other resources; sharing information about grant opportunities for the expansion of existing businesses or attracting new unmanned systems businesses; supporting legislation that fosters a business environment favorable to innovation and development of technology; supporting public and private programs that promote STEM education, workforce training and workforce development that may be beneficial to the unmanned systems industry; and promoting collaboration among entrepreneurial, existing technology and academic research entities.