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Can drones grow Delaware’s economy?

This DelDOT task force is looking to find out.

A drone built to assist farmers with everyday tedium. (Photo by Flickr user ackab1, used under a Creative Commons license)

Drones could potentially be an important part of Delaware’s economy, and state officials are doing something to help foment that potential.
“The UAS technology is very exciting and we’d like to grow the industry in Delaware,” Josh Thomas, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) aeronautics coordinator, said in an email. (UAS/UAV stands for unmanned aerial systems and vehicles.)
Drones are estimated to be an emerging $85 billion industry, according to a release from DelDOT.
That’s why DelDOT and the Delaware River and Bay Authority created a UAS/UAV Task Force in December, Thomas said.
The two groups are inviting others to join them, including industry manufacturers, drone users, university representatives and government, law enforcement and transportation officials.
The purpose of the task force will be three-fold, Thomas said:

  • The group will work to encourage the UAS/UAV industry to come to Delaware, and it is considering drone-use applications for things like agricultural spray application, law enforcement, infrastructure inspection, real estate marketing and cinematic uses.
  • The task force aims to create an outreach program to educate the public on safety. It’s currently planning public seminars for each of the state’s three counties.
  • It will also advocate for the state’s colleges and universities to develop operator training programs, which could include training mechanics to repair drones.

The group is meeting Thursday in Dover from 2-4 p.m. to discuss, among other things, educational materials about drones for task force members. It’s open to the public.
The task force will also be meeting again on March 17, Thomas said.

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