Press Release

Space Florida Conducts 1st Authorized Unmanned Systems Demo

By SpaceRef Editor
March 12, 2014
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EXPLORATION PARK, FL (March 12, 2014) – Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority and aerospace development organization, conducted the first authorized Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) demonstration from Florida on February 27-28 at Exploration Park.

Space Florida coordinated with NASA/Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to safely develop and conduct a demonstration of unmanned systems for use in various commercial and disaster response applications. Florida-based companies Prioria Robotics, Angel Eyes, and Elevated Horizons were invited to bring their unmanned aircraft to fly at Exploration Park and in an effort to establish policies and practices for the future of unmanned flight in Florida. 

“The UAS market is rapidly growing, and it is up to us to make Florida an attractive business destination for UAS manufacturing, testing, research and operations,” said Space Florida Chief Operating Officer Jim Kuzma. “The information collected during these demonstrations will lead to a safe, viable, and profitable unmanned market for the State of Florida.”

Participating companies were asked to complete a thorough application process, which included the submission of documentation tied to systems and maintenance processes, training and operator medical certifications. Systems and mission plans were thoroughly inspected prior to the demonstration launches, and participants also completed a two-day flight operations assessment at Exploration Park, demonstrating safe operation and compliance with Space Florida procedures during mission execution. Flights were designed to test the capabilities of the entire system, from the air vehicle to ground control and the ability for sensors to fully support search and rescue missions throughout the two-day demonstration. Full prior consent was provided for all observed areas during the demonstration.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the usefulness of domestic drones in various scenarios from disaster response to precision agriculture. This demonstration is giving an emerging market the opportunity to continue to prove to our neighbors and the community these things can be flown safely and responsibly,” said Brent Klavon of Aviation Systems Engineering Company (ASEC), whose company provided range and safety management services for the demo.

“In these tough economic times all business and governments are looking for ways to cut cost and get more done. Unmanned systems are the tools farmers and firefighters need to do just that,” said Bryan da Frota of Gainesville-based Prioria Robotics. “Privacy can be respected while still allowing business to grow and governments to more efficiently use public funds. Small UAS’s can cut operating costs significantly compared to other existing options, while doing it more safely, in less time, and with better results.” 

Throughout the two-day demonstration, 21 flights were completed, amassing 178 minutes of flight time.

“We are pleased to say that Florida has now conducted its first, official UAS demonstration program – one that will lead the way for many additional flights in the coming months and years,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “Demonstrating these systems safely and effectively ensure Florida is well positioned for this segment of the future of aviation, and its billion dollar potential.”

SpaceRef staff editor.