Virginia is quickly becoming one of the best states for emerging tech. It has a history of supporting emerging products with grants and tax credits. Additionally, the state has a phenomenal education system and workforce.
Project Wing is a company taking advantage of all that Virginia has to offer. They are conducting experimental food delivery flights in the state using unmanned aerial vehicles. Project Wing is part of X which is a lab that experiments with new technology and science. Project X is part of Alphabet, the company which owns Google.
Currently research and experiments on Project Wing are being done behind closed doors. Virginia’s governor, Terry McAuliffe said “Virginia Tech’s work with Project Wing will open new markets for Virginia entrepreneurs and make this emerging industry safer and more affordable. As we work to build a new Virginia economy, cutting edge technologies like unmanned systems will help create jobs and diversify our Commonwealth’s private-sector portfolio..”.
This project is part of Virginia Tech’s plan to make unmanned aircrafts part every day life. Setting up a successful drone delivery company is tough because of variables such as temperature, packaging, time, and volume. Perhaps the hardest problem of all is finding a supportive government willing to shepherd a startup through the rules and regulations involved with UAVs. Google appears to have found an ideal partner in the State of Virginia.
Another unmanned aircraft is being tested by Dominion Virginia Power, the state’s main utility. The drone they developed is used to fly over a power line beyond the visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilot. In a test flight, the aircraft flew over 10 miles beyond the VLOS of the pilot – although it was observed by a helicopter from above. Regulations traditionally limit drone pilots to flying in their field of vision. Federal and state officials worked together, however, to approve the test and develop the technology.
This has many applications that include surveying infrastructure, security, digitalizing crops, and more. Unmanned aircrafts can go places people can’t and with less risks.
Governor Leading The Way
Governor Terry McAuliffe recently went on board a remotely controlled aircraft himself. This was part of the ceremony to celebrate Virginia Space’s new airfield for unmanned aircraft which cost nearly 6 million dollars. This trip made him the first governor in the United States to board an unmanned aircraft.
The aircraft, called the Centaur, was remotely controlled by a pilot – although it can fly autonomously. For safety reasons though, there was a pilot flying with the governor and there were remote controls on the aircraft.
When asked if he was scared the governor said “No, I’m excited” with a smile. He said that whether it was unmanned aircrafts or self driving cars, he wanted Virginia to be in the lead.
With a perfect environment that encourages innovation Virginia is taking the lead when it comes to emerging technology. With a governor like Terry McAuliffe and an environment this suitable, it’s no wonder most tech projects are setting up shop in the state.
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