Saturday, September 09, 2017

Nevada makes a mark at InterDrone, officials say

James Spear, right, pilots the Yuneec H520, unmanned aircraft system, as Ross Miller, the Nevada Highway Patrol major accident investigation team, looks on as Yuneec and the Nevada Highway patrol demonstrate the latest commercial sUAS during an accident reconstruction on Thursday, September 7, 2017, outside the Rio hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Although Nevada didn’t have a strong presence on the exhibit floor, local drone officials say the state still made a mark at InterDrone.

The commercial drone conference ran Wednesday through Friday at the Rio. Of the 170 exhibitors that displayed their latest and greatest drone gear at InterDrone, six were local — and not necessarily drone related.

The city of Henderson, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems and the Nevada Business Aviation Association, the Las Vegas Drone Club all had booths, as did Las Vegas-based Yota Enterprises, which was selling cell phone accessories, and OIC Advance, which was offering massages.

InterDrone event organizers told the Review-Journal that OIC Advance is a Nevada company, though the company is not listed on the Nevada Secretary of State’s website, and a company representative did not return a request for comment.

Reza Karamooz, president of the Nevada Business Aviation Association, ran the booth with some interns promoting science, technology, engineering and math education.

“We bring this type of tech to you,” Karamooz said.

Karamooz exhibited on the floor with the intent of meeting other STEM-education organizations that they could collaborate with. That didn’t pan out the way he would have liked, he said. But, he hopes to partner with some Clark County School District classrooms soon.

“I invited educators from CCSD to come to the expo for free,” Karamooz said.

While the show floor wasn’t packed with Nevada-specific companies, Chris Walach, director of all testing sites in Nevada for unmanned aerial systems said Nevada’s presence was the greatest its been since InterDrone first launched in 2015.

The conference kicked off with a recorded video welcome message from Gov. Brian Sandoval followed by a keynote from Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta, in which he mentioned that Nevada is a key player in research and development for a potential drone detection 

Those comments helped to raise awareness about the efforts in Nevada to shape the drone industry, Walach said.

Walach and a team also coordinated to have four companies conduct live drone demonstrations during the pre-conference day on Tuesday at the 6-acre Henderson Unmanned Vehicle Range urban drone-testing site, located at 1125 Nevada State Drive.

Tom Wilczek, aerospace and defense industry specialist for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the demonstrations were a success.

“I would like to see the HUVR demonstration area grow, and have more opportunities and more of these entities come out and demo their products,” Wilczek said, adding that he and Walach are looking into ways to do that.

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