Nevada hopes to position itself at forefront of drone technology - WNEM TV 5

Nevada hopes to position itself at forefront of drone technology, business

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UNLV's research drone. (FOX5) UNLV's research drone. (FOX5)

Online retail giant on Monday released video detailing its pitch to speed up deliveries with unmanned aerial drones.

The proposed system is still years off and has numerous hurdles to clear but the practical benefits are enticing.

At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, professors and students are not only working to advance drone technology, but on a business model for consumer use.

Nevada is hoping to be among a handful of states to get the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones in civilian airspace. Companies such as Las Vegas-based AeroTargets International are already invested in making our city a drone hub.

"There is already an established airspace in Nevada, Creech Air Force Base, and a couple of other locations that already have UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operations going on," AeroTargets International President John Delamater said.

AeroTargets primarily works on military applications for drones. Still, the company is well aware of the potential for private market use.

"The opportunities to use drones in more civilian aspects is really endless," Delamater said.

Rama Venkat, dean of the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at UNLV, is already working with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and private businesses to showcase why Las Vegas should be the center for drone technology.

"Every week I'm talking to one company or another related to UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) in terms of relocating to our community," Venkat said.

Venkat's colleague, UNLV Department of Mechanical Engineering chair Wooson Yim, is becoming an expert in drone technology.

"Are we smart enough to capture the technology and manufacture it, give people job opportunities within our state? That's where we have to be," Venkat said.

Industry professionals say the implementation of drone technology into commercial interests in any meaningful way remains at least five years away.

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