State grant will help fund new drone testing site

Doctress Nuetopia/via flickr
March 3, 2014

Upstate New York’s new drone testing site is closer to pulling enough money together to begin operating. It’s been awarded a state grant to cover some of its startup costs.

Upstate New York’s new drone testing site is closer to pulling enough money together to begin operating. It’s been awarded a state grant to cover some of its startup costs.

$600,000 in state money has been given to NUAIR, the alliance of upstate defense contractors and universities that won approval to run one of six federal drone test sites.

That’s half of what’s needed to begin operating the test site, which will be located at the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome.

State Senator Joe Griffo helped secure the grant, which comes from a fund to repurpose former military installations.

"This is an intriguing area right now and I think it’s imperative that we position ourselves to try to take advantage of that and whoever does it best and quickest I think will have the greatest chance of opportunity for jobs," says Griffo.

Griffo says there’s hope that the grant will be renewed next year. A NUAIR spokesman says other funds will come from the private sector.

NUAIR hopes to begin drone test flights by early summer. The program is part of the FAA’s work to come up with regulations for drone use in domestic airspace. Drones are seen as a multi-billion growth dollar industry over the next few decades.