5G development in drone corridor

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Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium will bring 5G to New York’s 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor between Syracuse and Rome.

Open Generation has determined that the corridor is a prime location to launch the nation’s first 5G unmanned aircraft systems testing range, a designation that will greatly enhance New York’s position as a global leader in this emerging technology sector, Hochul said.

“Our drone corridor being selected for the launch of the nation’s first 5G unmanned aircraft systems testing range further positions our state — specifically the Central New York and the Mohawk Valley region — as the global leader in the market for this cutting-edge technology,” Hochul stated. 

“Through our continued investment in the drone corridor, we are strengthening and growing our regional economies for generations to come.” 

NUAIR, a New York-based non-profit organization that provides expertise in unmanned aircraft systems and is a member of Open Generation, manages New York’s 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor and plays a role in advancing 5G innovation in unmanned aircraft systems — UAS.

With coordination from NUAIR, the corridor will include an experimentation hub with more than 100 square miles dedicated to 5G beyond-visual-line-of-site testing and long-range flight paths — critical to the commercialization of safe and secure unmanned aircraft systems. 

“The selection of the Griffiss UAS test site to establish 5G capability along the 50-mile drone corridor is yet another example that the financial commitments that have been made by New York and local governments to advance this technology are paying off,” said Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo. “NUAIR and its partners have proven time and time again that they are capable of carrying out large scale UAS research and development throughout the corridor, which is making a difference in the advancement of UAS throughout the United States, and the addition of 5G will widen those R&D capabilities not only at the Griffiss test site, but throughout the 50-mile drone corridor to Syracuse.” 

New York state made a $30 million investment in 2016 to develop the 50-mile flight traffic management system between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome.

In total, the state has invested nearly $70 million over the past five years to advance the unmanned aircraft systems industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley.  

“I am pleased that the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium will install the nation’s first 5G Uncrewed Aircraft System test network within the drone corridor managed by NUAIR,” said Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome. “This additional resource will help to grow, enhance and further develop UAS and drone-related technology, networks and systems in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York.” 

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, said reliable, uncrewed aircraft systems are critical to ensuring the cutting-edge developments in the field can be used to support businesses in the Mohawk Valley and across the state.

“5G research, which will allow us to safely operate drones on long flight paths and beyond the line of sight, will advance the drone industry by leaps and bounds and expand the range of practical applications,” Buttenschon said. “I’ll continue working with state leaders, local officials, and community partners to support the Mohawk Valley’s flourishing UAS industry.’’

New York receiving the 5G technology for its drone corridor represents a milestone for the sector’s continued development in the state. Within the corridor, strategic investments are accelerating industry growth by supporting emerging uses in agriculture and forest management, transportation and logistics, media and film development, utilities and infrastructure, and public safety. 

“Supporting innovative technology and emerging industries that will create the jobs of tomorrow is at the core of ESD’s mission. Both the agency and our regional economic development councils have been very focused on growing the UAS industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley,” Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said. “MITRE’s selection for New York’s Drone Corridor to receive first-in-the-nation 5G technology represents a new milestone for the sector’s continued development in New York State.”

New York will be the first FAA-designated UAS test site with a bespoke 5G network, said NUAIR CEO Ken Stewart.

“The industry is looking for an FAA and FCC-approved communications network that has the capability and reliability needed for safe commercial drone operations,” Stewart said. “5G holds the promise of unlocking scalable, economically viable drone operations and we are confident that our work in New York will help determine if 5G is a suitable solution for the UAS industry.” 

Rome is home to the state Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, one of seven FAA-designated unmanned aircraft systems test sites in the U.S. Owned by Oneida County and managed by NUAIR, the site consists of a testing facility at Griffiss International Airport in Rome and is part of New York’s 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems traffic management corridor between Rome to Syracuse.

“I am pleased that Oneida County’s UAS Test site has been selected as the nation’s first 5G UAS testing range and I look forward to the positive impact this project will have on UAS communication,” said County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Our test site at Griffiss International Airport continues to be on the forefront of industry research, development and innovation and today’s announcement elevates the status of our 50-mile corridor to Syracuse to even greater heights.”

The test site is part of the 3,500-acre Griffiss Business and Technology Park, home to companies in cyber security, quantum computing and manufacturing. Sky Dome will complement the test site, providing year-round, indoor testing of advanced drone technologies, including artificial intelligence-based flight controls and autonomous swarms of small drones.  

The 5G testing in New York is intended to help prove to the FAA and FCC that the 5G cellular network meets acceptable aviation safety requirements, like what would be required for a wired communication or point-to-point radio link.

For more on the web: www.mitre-engenuity.org and www.nuair.org.

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