Yvonne Beasley, RGJ
Ashima Devices, a manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles, will move its headquarters and jobs to Reno, the company announced Tuesday.
About 400 new jobs, with a reported average salary of $70,000, are expected by 2018. The jobs will be in research, testing and manufacturing of the company’s UAVs, commonly called drones.
Many hope the move signals a new dimension in Northern Nevada’s economy.
Drones are “one of the next big things in aviation, and frankly, in the world,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said at a Tuesday press conference at Reno-Stead Airport. Also on hand to introduce Ashima to Reno were officials from the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
The company has committed to collaborating with the University of Nevada, Reno on programs to prepare students for occupations in the UAV field, according to EDAWN.
“A lot of graduates from UNR and a lot of graduates from the community college system are going to find their way to Ashima,” said Larry Lambert, a company vice-president.
“We want to build that community so a lot of your sons and daughters stay here and work here instead of going off to some other place.”
Ashima’s drones — newly developed and not yet in production — will be made for law enforcement, fire and rescue, security and industrial environments.
The round drones, called “Hexpucks,” provide short-range “situational awareness” of 600 feet to about a half-mile, said Ian McEwan, the company’s chief technical officer. They are made to “get to the scene, get out and get reconnaissance going,” he said.
The Hexpuck on display Tuesday was a little smaller than a manhole cover, with a smooth plastic casing that allows its use around trees or other places where a more pointy device would get stuck. Some possible uses are tracking wildfire, investigating structural flaws in an oil tanker or spotting what’s around the corner in a conflict.
The devices are controlled from the ground by a tablet, which can be made wearable, so controllers can strap the devices to their arm and move around.
The Ashima drones will be priced for thrifty first-responding agencies, company officials said, with leasing options for some models.
The company’s headquarters, plus research and manufacturing, will be located in the Stead area. The firm is moving from Pasadena, Calif.
The company will have a display in the “drone zone” at the Reno National Championship Air Races in Stead.