North Dakota starts state-wide drone network project
WILLISTON, N.D. (KFYR) - North Dakota will be the first state in the country with a state-wide drone network that allows pilots to fly unmanned aircraft systems beyond their visual line of site. Infrastructure for the $28 million project is already being installed in Williams and McKenzie County. The program will first be utilized for commercial industries, but the possibilities for what these drones can be used for could be endless.
North Dakota’s UAS Network, Vantis, is just getting off the ground. Pilots demonstrated a short flight with a Volansi C-10 drone in Williston Wednesday. Starting next year, these unmanned aerial systems will be able to assist different industries.
“We have, you know, hundreds and thousands of miles of line that needs to be inspected. We have electric utilities that need inspections. We have roads that need inspecting. These aren’t short distances. We have a lot of land out here, and there’s a lot of connectivity that needs to be done,” said Vantis Executive Director Nicholas Flom.
Phase two of the project will expand the network to other parts of North Dakota. Vantis will eventually cover all 70,000 square miles of the state, creating new business opportunities.
“I expect probably within five years, certainly within 10 years, this will be a method of delivering all kinds of services to our energy industry and our other industries that we won’t even think twice about it,” said McKenzie County Commissioner Gene Veeder.
Before the project’s next phase, pilots will be doing extensive drone network testing in Western North Dakota.
Initial flights in Williams and McKenzie County will ensure network safety and reliability and help the Northern Plains UAS Test Site set requirements for any aircraft that wants to fly using the Vantis network.
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