State, local leaders discuss commercial use of drones

WAVY News
WAVY News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — State and local leaders gathered at Old Dominion University Friday afternoon to discuss drones and the economic potential they have for commercial use.

Virginia is one of six states selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to develop test sites for drones. That site is at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, but leaders say Hampton Roads could play a role.

With the proper training, Dr. John Langford  says anyone can fly a drone. He showed WAVY.com one developed at his northern Virginia company, Aurora Flight Sciences.

“It’s a small unmanned aircraft. It has a series of computers in it that can receive signals from the Global Positioning Network in your smartphone, actually, and it can essentially fly itself,” he said.

Senator Mark Warner called local and state leaders together at ODU for a roundtable discussion.  He told WAVY.com earlier that the public needs more assurance and education about this new technology.

“One, in terms of safety of these systems, and, two, when most folks her the word ‘drone’ they think of something that flies in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Warner said. “They think of the military use and not the commercial applications.”

State Senator Frank Wagner echoed those sentiments: “this is now a growing, huge potential industry. We just want to put the infrastructure in place and let businessmen do what they do best.”

The state’s technology secretary, Karen Jackson, said Virginia has already made a million-dollar investment into this economic opportunity.

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