Inside Vantis Network’s Mission and Network Operations Center

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 7:31 PM CDT
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (KUMV) - Drone operators in northwest North Dakota are testing out the initial stages of a statewide drone network that allows them to fly beyond their visual line of sight.

While testing takes place near Watford City and Williston, it’s up to the people at the Mission and Network Operations Center (MNOC) near Grand Forks to guide the drones during their flight.

Before a drone can even begin its ascent, lots of preparation must be made. Operators in the field must first check in with officials at the MNOC, granting approval for the flight path and making sure the area is safe to fly in, similar to a watch tower at an airport.

“This is going to be the heart of the Vantis network. We’re here to ensure safety is the top priority and ensure all the services are functioning as they should,” said Gee Abdulmur, Technical Operations Manager.

Drone flights have been monitored at this site since October, which were previously done in construction trailers at a nearby location. Officials say completion of this permanent site is just another step towards making the state a hub for unmanned aerial vehicles.

“I’m really excited for the future and what this means and what this can do for us. It took a long time to get here but now that it’s here, it opens the doors for other opportunities,” said Trevor Woods, Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which administers Vantis.

While their focus is on showcasing the many uses of drones in North Dakota, officials add that the Mission and Network Operations Center has the potential to cover drone flights throughout the entire United States.

Officials say more of their UAS infrastructure will be coming to parts of Fargo and Grand Forks this year. Williston is also expected to see some infrastructure upgrades this summer.

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