North Dakota DoT, Northern Plains BEYOND companion

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) announce 8 BEYOND partners. These companies – including some key players in the commercial drones space – will work in North Dakota to implement the goals of the BEYOND Program (FAA), the next phase of the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP).

The IPP brought state, local, and tribal governments into the process of testing advanced drone operations. The IPP established a model for partnerships between state, local and tribal organizations. Drone industry provider; and government agencies. The IPP was signed at the end of 2020. However, the BEYOND program will continue where successful IPP projects left off. BEYOND has “a special focus on out-of-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations that are repeatable, scalable and economical,” according to a press release from ND DoT. “These efforts are backed by Vantis, North Dakota’s UAS network, which is designed to enable real BVLOS flights without extreme barriers to entry.”

The partnership in the BEYOND program has advantages for all parties. Municipalities have the opportunity to take advantage of commercial drone programs and to contribute to the way these programs work. Drone industry partners will have the opportunity to demonstrate operations that may not comply with applicable regulations. North Dakota, which has named DRONELIFE one of the top states in the drone industry, has invested heavily in providing the right infrastructure and environment for drone companies to test advanced operations.

“We are excited to announce our partnerships with such innovative companies from North Dakota and across the country,” said NDDOT Director Bill Panos. “Partnerships like this keep us up to date with UAS advances.”

The BEYOND partners announced include:

  • Airspace Link, an FAA-approved UAS Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capabilities Service Provider (LAANC), focused on meeting the needs of state and local governments and ensuring that UAS pilots can make informed decisions.
  • Equinor, an energy company developing oil, gas, wind and solar power in more than 30 countries, including a strong presence in North Dakota;
  • iSight Drone Services, North Dakota’s first privately owned UAS company to provide professional UAS operations and set the bar for scalable and mature operations management;
  • Skydio, a leading US manufacturer of autonomous, small-sized UAS that use artificial intelligence to see and understand their surroundings and intelligently navigate complex environments for industrial inspection and public safety;
  • SkySkopes, a North Dakota-based professional drone service provider focused on providing innovative solutions for the energy sector;
  • Volansi, a commercial manufacturer and operator of Autonomous Vertical Takeoff and Landing Systems (VTOL) focused on airworthiness and certification;
  • Workhorse, an autonomous solution provider providing airworthiness, certification and operational support, primarily for package delivery;
  • Xcel Energy, a leader in using autonomous technologies to support energy technologies and supplies.

“It is incredibly beneficial that North Dakota is a powerhouse in the UAS,” said Nicholas Flom, executive director of NPUASTS. “When we have BEYOND and Vantis in the same location and have the expertise and reputation to attract these leaders in the commercial UAS, we are well positioned to meet BEYOND’s goals.”

Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.

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