NYS' 50-mile Drone Zone complete, testing now begins

22 hours ago

Central New York’s emerging drone industry is taking some major steps forward, as construction of the infrastructure is complete for the unmanned traffic management drone corridor which runs from Syracuse to the Mohawk Valley.

State officials say the 50-mile stretch of land is the most advanced drone testing corridor in the nation.  Mike Hertzendor, CEO of NUAIR, which manages the corridor, said wrapping up the infrastructure is a big deal.

Credit NUAIR

“It is absolutely a milestone in the development of bringing UAS technologies and jobs to the region," he said, "and what we’re trying to do is get to routine use of UAV’s for commercial operation.”

Now that the infrastructure is in place, companies will be able to test both unmanned aerial systems and threat management technologies in real-world settings.

New York State also hopes to draw more entrepreneurs in the drone industry to Syracuse by investing in the downtown Tech Garden. The Cuomo Administration is setting aside $12.5 million dollars in Upstate Revitalization Initiative funding to help pay for a Tech Garden expansion.

The Tech Garden has been home to several companies working on unmanned aircraft projects, and Tech Garden Vice President Rick Clonan said there is a waiting list for prospective members, so the space is sorely needed.

“We’re definitely doing a lot more co-working space, more common space, more open space so people can just drop in,” Clonan said.

Officials say the burgeoning UAS industry is responsible for over 1,800 jobs created or announced since investment in drone technology began in 2012.

Flight patterns in the drone zone In Central New York.
Credit NUAIR