DriveOhio and Ohio UAS Center partner to support UAS research and development

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DriveOhio and the Ohio UAS Center have announced a new strategic plan to support UAS research and development.

Through the strategic plan, three main initiatives— FlyOhio, Ohio UAS Center Operations, and workforce development—will be addressed.

​In an effort to facilitate the widescale use of UAS for delivery and transport, FlyOhio will seek to develop an unmanned traffic management (UTM) system; Ohio UAS Center Operations will facilitate the use of UAS for a variety of business services; and workforce development will educate and create the skills needed for smart mobility jobs around this technology.   

“UAS technology is advancing just as quickly as autonomous and connected vehicle technology, and Ohio understands how both can work together across multiple smart mobility initiatives,” says Jim Barna, executive director of DriveOhio.

“Companies operating new UAS technologies need opportunities to test and deploy them, and the nation needs a traffic management system that can make drone package delivery and transportation safe and commercially viable. We aim to do all of this in Ohio.”

Along with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), FlyOhio is researching a $5 million ground-based detect-and-avoid radar system called SkyVision at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport in Clark County, Ohio.

FlyOhio will also explore a second UTM platform along the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, which is 35-mile stretch of highway between Dublin and East Liberty, Ohio. The Smart Mobility Corridor is already a testing ground for autonomous and connected vehicles and communications.

Lastly, FlyOhio will identify locations that can accommodate aircraft that takeoff and land vertically. Known as vertiports, these locations are becoming more and more important with the advancement of unmanned package delivery, the entities note.

In terms of the Ohio UAS Center Operations, the state of Ohio is already using UAS to work in support and improvement of state and local government operations. This technology is also being used for a variety of other services such as project and environmental surveying, infrastructure inspection, and police and firefighting support.

Through this new strategic plan, statewide data collection operations will include bridge inspections, aerial photography and mapping, and emergency management, just to name a few. The entities say that by expanding these operations and use case development services, the UAS Center will “continue growing Ohio’s UAS ecosystem and accelerate technology adoption in the state.”

Finally, regarding UAS Workforce Development, DriveOhio and the UAS Center are actively working with smart mobility workforce development stakeholders from government, industry, education and local communities across Ohio to identify pilot programs involving UAS technologies.

These programs seek to deliver benefits for a number of potential employees, including today’s workforce, tomorrow’s workforce, and the emerging workforce.

“As workforce development is a core part of DriveOhio’s mission to support and advance Ohio’s smart mobility future, initiatives like these go hand-in-hand with new projects, helping to prepare workers for jobs in this new UAS sector,” the entities say.

For Fred Judson, managing director of the UAS Center, this strategic plan provides a strategy for Ohio to continue playing a role in advancing the country’s smart mobility operations to the sky.

“We’re excited to continue working with companies, government entities and local communities to develop unmanned traffic systems, promote UAS technologies and use cases and develop the workforce here in Ohio to fill the jobs these new technologies will present,” Judson says.

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