Drone test site applications put revenue, jobs on the line

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Unmanned aircrafts have a range of uses from agriculture to infrastructure inspecting and the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision for the location of six test sites could determine the industry’s future center of operations.

Applications for future test sites have been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for the six Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) test sites. In all, 25 applications were submitted by 24 states and the FAA is required to select six sites to test and study drones for commercial use in national airspace.

The Washington Post reports one of the six locations could become the future “Silicon Valley of drones.”

Whoever is chosen will gain a technological edge in the industry and could receive a substantial economic impact. Reuters reports the industry’s value could be worth billions with some drones carrying an estimated price tag of $100,000. Smaller versions could be more affordable for agricultural use.

North Dakota claims it has an advantage in testing drones as it has already evaluated drones for use in agriculture among other uses. The state also provides a range of weather extremes.

North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley (R) told the Washington Post his state also offers an international border, and its established drone policy infrastructure.

One of the primary concerns repeatedly addressed is the invasion of privacy. Farmers across the country have voiced concerns about drones and invasion of privacy. Animal welfare groups are investing in the machines with plans of monitoring livestock operations.

The FAA will select the six locations in December.

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