Colorado Startups Push to Get Unmanned Aircraft Industry Airborne

Drones: There's an App for That

The sky might be the limit for the unmanned aircraft industry, but before it takes flight, the engineers, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts trying to build an industry that they say could soon have a $13.6 billion economic impact will have to navigate a tricky route through the offices of regulators and lawmakers—and the court of public opinion.

This is a fact of life for people like Allen Bishop, president and CEO of Reference Technologies. The three-year-old startup is designing and building unmanned aerial systems at its headquarters in Lafayette, CO, a town about 15 minutes east of Boulder.

ReferenceTek is building an autonomous system Bishop believes could revolutionize the way public safety officials respond to emergencies and how physicians deliver medicine in the developing world.

Bishop was showing off his aircraft Tuesday at a demonstration hosted by FreeWave Technologies, a Boulder-based company that makes radios. FreeWave wants to capitalize on what could be a growing industry, and for the prior two days had hosted a gathering of entrepreneurs and researchers to talk shop and show off its creations.

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