Oklahoma sees promise in unmanned aircraft

SHIELD Aviation ARES Block C

Oklahoma is still keeping pace with — if not soaring past — other regions trying to carve a niche in the unmanned aerial systems and drone industry despite missing out on a Federal Aviation Administration test site designation, Jamey Jacob said.

“Where our strength is really coming from is in our public-private partnerships,” said Jacob, a professor of aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State University. “We’re seeing a lot of positive interaction between state government, academic institutions and a growing local industry under very proactive initiatives on a steady pace.”

The Stillwater university was scheduled to hold a national conference for the unmanned aerial systems industry this month. The event will provide a forum for entrepreneurs, investors and researchers to share best practices and technology. Demand worldwide for remote-controlled systems is projected to top $15 billion over the next 10 years, with applications ranging from crop monitoring to testing shipping routes, officials said.

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