Drones creating buzz in region

Idaho in running to become test site for industry

Print Article

POST FALLS - Drones are starting to find landing pads in our neck of the woods.

Some believe the research and development of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for private and commercial applications can provide an economic boost for Idaho.

"It is the future," said Steve Edgar, a retired Air Force pilot who is lobbying for Idaho to become one of six states to have drone testing centers.

"The entire state can benefit from this new industry, and it's not going to go away."

Idaho colleges and universities, the Idaho Department of Commerce and the Idaho Aviation Alliance (a collection of aerospace-related businesses) are among the entities collaborating on getting drones off the ground. Idaho partners had a booth at a national UAV conference in Washington, D.C., in August and have plans for other upcoming promotions.

North Idaho College will offer an introductory drone course to test the local interest in drone development. The class will be taught by Brad Ward, a retired Air Force pilot who helped craft unmanned policy at the Pentagon and has experience flying drones.

"We're trying to give people a bigger base knowledge of drones," Ward said.

Idaho State University will offer full online courses on the subject.

Drones are best known for wartime applications such as gathering intelligence, but the smaller versions domestically have raised eyebrows due to privacy issues.

A whole new world exists for future applications, Ward said.

"The technology is getting cheaper and they're easier to fly," Ward said.

Ward believes the biggest concern regarding drones should come with citizens spying on their neighbors' back yards, but states are passing laws to address privacy issues. He doesn't believe there should be fear about government watching over us with drones because the government has bigger fish to fry with the technology.

"The government has its hands full overseas," Ward said.

Public entities are using drones in search and rescue, fish and game and forestry applications to gather data or pinpoint subjects.

But the FAA hasn't granted private or commercial use of them yet. That's why Idaho aerospace interests believe there's a new frontier out there that could lead to jobs and economic development.

The Idaho Department of Commerce and Batelle Energy Alliance, which operates the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho, has applied for a 900-square-mile site north of Idaho Falls to be a drone testing center.

The Federal Aviation Administration will announce the six sites by Dec. 31.

"The FAA wants to develop future commercial applications with the same level of safety we have today," Edgar said. "That's why the six test sites are being set up."

Edgar said 57 entities originally applied to be a test site. The list has been pared to 21.

If the Idaho site is chosen, Edgar said it will have a ripple effect in the entire state. A similar scenario has occurred in North Dakota, he added.

"It would help diversify Idaho's economy to help us avoid further ups and downs," he said. "When you bring in a new industry, everybody wins."

Ward said he hopes drone awareness efforts will lead to measurable results for the region because the emerging technology and potential are there.

"People with a passion tend to make things happen," Ward said.

North Idaho College's four-hour course on drones will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at its Workforce Training Center in Post Falls on Nov. 7-8. It will give a history of drones, current events and future applications for the technology. The cost is $39. Information: 769-3333, www.nic.edu/wtc

Print Article

Read More Local News

North Idaho Revisited

October 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press BAYVIEW — Just about the time you thought the blast from the last big boomer would blow you off the barge, Gary MacDonald moved blithely down the firing line igniting shell after shell after shell, e...

Comments

Read More

Winter forecast: It’s gonna snow

October 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press At this time each year, climatologist Cliff Harris and I issue our annual city-by-city winter snowfall predictions for Coeur d’Alene and other areas across the Inland Northwest. October is a key mont...

Comments

Read More

School and Senior Lunches

October 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Week of Oct. 23-27 Coeur d’Alene School District • Elementary Breakfast: Monday — Fuel-up nutri-grain bar Tuesday — Hearty biscuit and sausage gravy Wednesday — Yummy yami yogurt Thursd...

Comments

Read More

Warrants

October 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Here is this week's list of suspected lawbreakers sought by Kootenai County police agencies and the sheriff's office: FELONIES Meier, Erika R., 24, Hayden, probation violation, no bond. Vegas, Jas...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X