Drone Certification TestNorth Dakota DoT, Northern Plains BEYOND Partners

September 12, 2021by helo-10

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) announce 8 BEYOND partners.  These companies – including some major players in the commercial drone space –  will work in North Dakota to execute on the goals of the (FAA) BEYOND program, 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 of partnerships between state, local and tribal organizations; drone industry providers; and government regulators.  The IPP was sundowned at the end of 2020: but the BEYOND program will pick up where successful IPP projects left off.  BEYOND has “a particular focus on operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operator that are repeatable, scalable, and economically viable,” says an ND DoT press release. “These efforts will be bolstered by Vantis, North Dakota’s UAS Network, which is designed to enable real-world BVLOS flights without extreme barriers to entry.”

Partnership in the BEYOND program has benefits for all parties.  Communities have the opportunity to realize the benefits of commercial drone programs, and the opportunity to provide input into the way those programs should operate.  Drone industry partners are given the opportunity to demonstrate operations that may fall outside of current regulations.  North Dakota, which DRONELIFE has named one of the top states for the drone industry, has invested heavily in providing the right infrastructure and environment for drone companies to test advanced operations.

“We are incredibly excited to announce our partnerships with such innovative companies from within North Dakota and across the country,” said NDDOT Director Bill Panos. “Partnerships like this keep us at the cutting edge of UAS advancements.”

The announced BEYOND partners include:

  • Airspace Link, an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), focused on meeting the needs of state and local governments and ensuring UAS pilots can make informed decisions;
  • Equinor, an energy company developing oil, gas, wind and solar energy in more than 30 countries, including a strong presence in North Dakota;
  • iSight Drone Services, the first private UAS company in North Dakota, providing professional UAS operations, setting the bar on scalable and mature operations management;
  • Skydio, a leading U.S. manufacturer of autonomous, small UAS that use Artificial Intelligence to see and understand their surroundings and intelligently navigate complex environments for industrial inspections and public safety;
  • SkySkopes, a professional drone service provider based in North Dakota that is focused on bringing innovative solutions to the energy sector;
  • Volansi, a commercial manufacturer and operator of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) autonomous flight systems that is focused on airworthiness and certification;
  • Workhorse, an autonomous solutions provider supporting airworthiness, certification, and operations support, primarily for package delivery;
  • Xcel Energy, leading organization using autonomous technologies in support of energy technologies and energy delivery.

“It’s incredibly advantageous that North Dakota is a powerhouse in UAS,” said Nicholas Flom, executive director of NPUASTS. “Having BEYOND and Vantis in the same location, and having the expertise and reputation to draw these leaders in commercial UAS operations in, means that we are well-positioned to execute the goals of BEYOND.”

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