Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vying for new center for drone technology

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James AldridgeWeb Editor-San Antonio Business Journal

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has developed a new unmanned aerial vehicle command and control center. The announcement was made at the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

The university’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Initiative consists of 6,000 square miles of available airspace, and is one of six Federal Aviation Administrationtest sites under consideration for drones. Gov. Rick Perry is backing the initiative.

A formal announcement from the FAA is expected in December.

“We are in ‘phase one’ of the development of the command and control center,” says Dr. Luis Cifuentes, vice president of research, commercialization and outreach. “Eventually, it will control all of the UAV test ranges around the state.”

The university is citing a report from the Associations of Unmanned Vehicles International that shows that the economic impact from drones in Texas alone could generate $8 billion over the next 10 years.

The university is collaborating with theCamber Corp. and several other entities to secure an FAA test site in the Coastal Bend area.

“With the center of that economic being the Coastal Bend area, the economic impact here would be absolutely significant,” says Camber Director Joe Henry.

Once the FAA announces its decision, the six test sites will have six months to be up and running.

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