Ohio UAS Conference: Day 1 shows a flurry of unmanned aircraft efforts in short term


Tristan Navera Staff Reporter-Dayton Business Journal

You only have to be in the Dayton Convention Center for a few minutes before someone spells it out; Unmanned aircraft aren’t going anywhere.

In fact, the sense on the expo floor as the Ohio UAS Conference kicks off is that the many programs and demands for unmanned systems are only growing — and quickly.

More than 700 people and 73 exhibitors from 27 U.S. states, Israel, Mexico and Australia are downtown this week for the Ohio UAS Conference, which has drawn industry, government, military and academia to a gathering intended to promote unmanned systems industry in Ohio, said Maurice “Mo” McDonald, executive vice president for Aerospace and Defense at the Dayton Development Coalition.

“This week is all about how we can build partnerships,” McDonald said, “The military has been using these systems for years, but on the private side we’re finding limitless uses for UAS. So you’re trying to take the systems into a new element, where there’s a wide range of uses for them.”

Commercial unmanned systems — commonly known as drones — have a potential to change a multitude of industries as they emerge as a mainstream technology. The average commercial drone would cost in the range of $55,000, but people use unmanned systems as inexpensive as a few hundred dollars for recreation and photography.

The question, then, is how the rest of the considerations — legal, financial and ethnical — will catch up to the technology t already available.

Either way, Dayton will play a big part in that, said Deb Norris, vice president of workforce development at Sinclair Community College. Sinclair has half a dozen permissions to fly unmanned aircraft locally, and 600 students have gone through its UAS-related training programs, including 157 who have applied for its coming two-year degree in UAS.

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