Arizona Commerce Authority
What do you see as a major challenge to the unmanned systems industry?
One of the major challenges for this industry is a lack of federal resources; however, Arizona will continue to lead the nation in testing, training and operating unmanned aircraft systems. Privacy concerns also challenge the industry, which is why the educational and advancement efforts of AUVSI are critical.
What does your development and growth strategy look like in the coming years for your robotics/unmanned systems sector?
Arizona is currently experiencing robust activity in the defense sector, which the state intends to not only sustain but to advance as we anticipate greater clustering effects around the nation. Arizona is already a national leader in UAS testing, training and military operations. Looking forward, our state is aggressively pursuing designation as one of the FAA’s six national UAS testing sites, and Arizona will be a regional and national center for research, development and testing of civilian UAS. The state will also become the national center of excellence for training of UAS pilots, operators and technicians.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the field of unmanned systems in the last few years?
Arizona is already a proven leader in unmanned aircraft systems. Our state has tested more than 50 types of unmanned aircraft, graduated thousands of UAS pilots and operators, and cultivated cutting edge research within our academic institutions. Arizona has also formed a dedicated research consortium, a partnership of the state’s universities, which will advance necessary research and development for the future of UAS.
Where do you see the industry going as a whole in the next decade?
Military UAVs and operations are already well established in Arizona. In the next decade, we will see continued application across the national security missions, as well as civilian and commercial application across a wide variety of occupations and industries, including agriculture, search and rescue, geological surveys, law enforcement, border protection, forest and forest fire management, traffic and transportation management, logistics, and more.
How do you see your business transitioning to the commercial sector as the unmanned systems and robotics industry moves in that direction?
While there will always be a need for direct human involvement in aviation systems — greater application of UAS into commercial areas such as agriculture, search and rescue, geological surveys, law enforcement, border protection, forest and forest fire management, traffic and transportation management, logistics, and more — [which] will result in greater efficiency in these areas, increased productivity and a reduction of risk to human pilots. Also, pilot training programs for commercial pilots will expand to a separate track for UAS pilots and operators, graduating them with certifications and appreciation of the national air traffic control system.
How has AUVSI membership helped your company?
AUVSI has provided real-time information regarding emerging applications and national policy and presents a united front of fact-based information to Washington, D.C., decision makers.