Central New York drone test corridor making progress

Small test area to be ready this Spring and full 50-mile corridor by end of 2018

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Central New York is very well on its way to making its claim as a national and even global hub for drone technology.

The initial piece of a critical test corridor for these machines is only a few months from being ready.

Before there are any drone deliveries or wide-scale use of unmanned aerial vehicles companies must be able to fly beyond visual line of sight, farther than you can see them with the naked eye.

Led by Gryphon Sensors along with other partners the region is close to the first piece of what will be a 50-mile test corridor from Syracuse to Rome.

The initial area will cover Griffiss International Airport over to Madison County Offices in Wampsville to Old Oneida County Airport in Oriskany.

Gryphon Sensors Director of Programs Dave Whitaker says, "I think we're shooting for late Spring or early Summer to have a demonstration of capability and this will serve as the basis for what happens in the full corridor, so it'll set some expectations in terms of what kind of activities can occur in that full corridor."

Radars about 5-feet tall along with smaller sensing equipment will be placed at various locations in the corridor to tract UAVs under 55 pounds.

Visual observer backups will be in place for the initial small test area but eventually the goal is for operators to follow these machines on a display only.

It’s the very thing companies all over the country and the world are craving right now.

Whitaker says, "I want to do some stuff but I need to test it or I need to develop a safety case around doing it so I can do it in most places, where do I do that?  Do it here, all of the facilities are here, develop your craft here, develop your use cases here."

He adds, "The point of putting this whole system together is to attract companies to come to the area and do development, so we want it to be a self-sustaining asset in the long run."

Governor Andrew Cuomo last November at a prestigious drone conference in Syracuse announced $30 million from the State for the full 50-mile test corridor.

He wants the entire project done by the end of 2018.

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