Connecting state and local government leaders
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum proposed $30 million for the state’s unmanned aerial system traffic control network and $7 million for a business and aviation park in Grand Forks.
North Dakota is planning for an additional $37 million in spending on drones and unmanned aerial systems in a bid to stay a “leader in this technology,” Gov. Doug Burgumsaid in his State of the State Address.
The extra funding for 2023 to 2025 would be spent two ways: $30 million would go toward expanding Vantis, the state’s UAS traffic control network, while $7 million would be spent on the Grand Sky UAS business and aviation park in Grand Forks.
The additional money, which must be approved by the legislature, would help “build on this momentum” that already exists for the state’s drone industry, Burgum said.
The governor’s call for more investment in the state’s drone initiatives came on the heels of the Federal Aviation Administration announcing that uAvionix, an company that develops command and control software for drones, was approved to conduct flights of small unmanned aircraft beyond the visual line of sight in North Dakota using the Vantis network. It is the first company granted this approval.
The Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International, which works to further UAS development and commercialization, has been supportive of Burgum’s proposal. In letters submitted to state legislative leaders, the group said funding for uncrewed systems programs like North Dakota’s “is both crucial for the advancement of the industry and provides immense public benefits.”
North Dakota has looked to establish itself as a leader on drone technology for several years now, having previously unveiled proposals in 2018 to build infrastructure to support drone operations beyond the visual line of sight and expanding its statewide network last year to allow for more companies to test there.
AUVSI said in its letters to lawmakers that the additional funding in the proposed executive budget shows that North Dakota “is continuing to demonstrate its leadership in the industry and establishing itself as the hub of UAS innovation.”