New York Carves Out Drone Testing Corridor for Automation and Testing

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

If you watched the Super Bowl last January, you saw a frightening and hilarious commercial about drone-apocalypse, where unmanned aerial vehicles became smart and chased humanity into the shadows. The idea was to sell a new car, but to avoid any hint of it happening by design or by accident, the state of New York has devoted a 50 mile swath of land to test new automation features that could make use of drones an every day useful occurrence.

“If you are interested in this industry, this is the place to be,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “With this groundbreaking partnership and our $30 million investment for the most advanced drone testing in the country, we are establishing Central New York and the Mohawk Valley as the premiere destination for businesses at the forefront of innovation.”

Image Credit – State of New York

Located in upstate New York, the state has designed an airspace corridor that can be devoted to testing and developing what they call “traffic management systems for unmanned aircraft,” and with which said UAVs can undergo safety and performance testing. In addition, the state has earmarked $30 million to jump start the effort.  The airspace is mostly rural farmland centered around Griffiss International Airport in Rome New York. The airport is currently the base of operations for NASA’s own drone testing effort. There are six other sites also being developed in Virginia, North Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, and Alaska.


“Clients will eventually be able to fly beyond the visual line of sight in the corridor testing their technology,” said Tony Basile, NUAIR’s vice president for operations.

But Cuomo is all in on improving the state of the drone industry, which he believes will be the future of everything from delivery of products, to monitoring agriculture, to search and rescue and inspection of large construction sites.  With his Upstate Revitalization Initiative, the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance has been launched, a coalition of private and public entities and academic institutions in New York and Massachusetts. NUAIR will work to bring more drone companies to upstate New York area.

Image Credit –

The hope is, that with the test and evaluation corridor, that drone manufactures will flock to the area to set up shop and take advantage of state tax breaks and supporting infrastructure. “It isn’t just the manufacture of drones,” said Robert Simpson, president and CEO of Syracuse-based CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity. “It’s the manufacture of their components and materials and sensor systems. We have one of the strongest collection of sensor companies in the world right here.”

The 50 mile testing area will be complete with sensors installed all around, as well as mobile vans equipped with special radar to monitor drones as small as a foot long from up to six miles away.  The testing will include not only the automation of smart drone devices, but also to develop air traffic communications between drone pilots and air traffic controllers.

It looks like the state of New York is adopting the old “if you build it, they will come” philosophy by making a drone friendly area with which companies to development the industry. And they may be onto something since experts says the use of drones will ultimately become a $127 Billion industry by 2020.

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