The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems has launched the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence for Public Safety. Together with the FAA, it’s overarching purpose is to combat frequent drone incursions on public and private airspace, as well as educate residents and provide workshop sessions to promote safe and legal drone use as the number of registered UAVs in the country continues to grow.
According to the NIAS, the NDCOE aims to save lives, reduce near-misses with commercial aircraft, and protect a healthy level of privacy in this modern drone age of ours. The underlying purpose here, in addition to the above, is presumably to instill ethical and legal UAV use before the seemingly inevitable nationwide commercial drone traffic becomes reality.
Overall, it seems as though educational hubs like the NDCOE are necessary. We’ve seen plenty of irresponsible and illegal drone activity over the past few years, ranging from invasions of privacy and interrupting public sporting events, to colliding with airplanes and smuggling contraband into federal prisons. In addition to clarifying federal regulations, the NDCOE will aim to foster drone use in wildfire fighting, medical deliveries, and gas-leak detection. Nevada, it turns out, is the perfect place to situate this center.
“In addition to fostering major advances in UAS technology with testing partners like the FAA, NASA, and Switch, Nevada is also home to the most registered drone users in the nation in Las Vegas,” said Paul Anderson, Executive Director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “This dynamic makes such a program as the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence for Public Safety a natural step as drones increasingly become a bigger part of our daily lives.”
The University of Nevada Las Vegas recently completed a state-wide survey in collaboration with NIAS, which found nearly 80 percent of respondents concerned about hobby drones colliding with airplanes, and 90 percent of people worried about UAVs entering FAA-designated no-fly zones like sports venues or concerts. Drone incursions, it seems, are the primary focus of this new center, motivated by both the public’s fears and the seeming increase in correlated incidents.
Dr. Chris Walach, the Senior Director of both the NIAS and Nevada’s FAA-designated test site providing UAS Integration Pilot Program participants with secure airspace, believes that the NDCOE will have vast, positive ramifications on the industry at large.
“We are taking an aggressive approach toward solving the complex UAS Industry challenge of mitigating drone incursions into the National Airspace System (NAS)—one of the toughest FAA challenges today,” said Dr. Walach. “What we are doing in Nevada will be of immense value to the DOT, FAA, DHS, DOJ, commercial airlines, visitor venues, and the UAS Industry. This new center will help advance infrastructure protections, drone detection innovations, enhance air safety, and expand air commerce in Nevada.”
Educating the public on responsible, legal, and ethical drone use is arguably one of the most important factors of this modern, affordable drone landscape we’re experiencing. Too many unnecessarily dangerous incidents have occurred for aviation authorities and UAV experts to dismiss, and the NIAS launching an all-encompassing hub to learn about these issues is a great place to start changing course.
Additionally, this could potentially lead to a more reliable airspace, which the FAA and its commercial clients could finally take advantage of with medical deliveries and e-commerce. Hopefully, more drone enthusiasts prone to risky UAV piloting will learn to mend their ways and clear the air for the rest of us eager to see standardized aerial deliveries in our lifetimes.