By Patrick Walker
LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s drone industry is taking off to new heights, and soon drones could soon be flying over our heads on a regular, bringing a bird’s eye view of major events — well, that is if drone operators get past all of the red tape.
Currently, drone operators like Arrow Data have to give a three-day notice before flying, but that rule is expected to change in the near future.
Nevada is the test site for all things unmanned. Industry experts said that fact could be a sign that the state of Nevada will be leaders in the industry.
UNLV professor, Dr. Paul Oh says relaxed regulations and support from lawmakers are the reason the silver state has become a destination for companies working on the next generation of transportation.
“Everybody in my field sees Nevada as being front row and center, in really advancing — not just unmanned systems or drones, but unmanned systems, in general,” Dr. Oh said.
Take the Autonomous robot. Eight years and $10 million have gone into the development of the robot designed to go into disaster areas with minimal guidance and perform tasks too dangerous for humans.
“We’re the tip of the spear for new technologies,” said Ron Futrell, Arrow Data.
Futrell works with Arrow Data, a Las Vegas-based aerial video company that wants to work with television news outlets to bring breaking news using unmanned systems such as drones. Futrell said Nevada was a natural choice for his company.
“I think we’ve always symbolized as the Wild, Wild West. This is the new Wild, Wild West of technology,” Futrell said.
From drones and driverless trucks to destruction zone robots, many have viewed new technology as a way to recruit the best and brightest to Las Vegas.
“When our UNLV students see a world class platform like a robot or some of the technology demonstrations that we’re doing, they’re realizing there’s a new dream,” Dr. Oh said.
The director of UNLV’s lab said the FAA’s clearance for drone testing in Nevada is the reason he moved to the state to help start the lab.