Taking the next step in implementing and utilizing North Dakota’s statewide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) network, Vantis announced the companies and organizations who will be flying real-life use cases on its network this summer. The six winners were selected following a request for proposal (RFP) process that began last year, seeking multiple UAS, or drones, to support operational testing of beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights on the statewide UAS network.
“We have selected some of the most innovative and advanced UAS operators and manufacturers out there,” said Jim Cieplak, Vantis program manager. “We look forward to this next stage, with multiple aircraft flying multiple use cases on Vantis simultaneously.”
RFP winners include:
- American Aerospace Technologies will be focusing on pipeline and other linear infrastructure inspections. It has been flying medium-altitude long-endurance BVLOS missions since 2010 and assists customers with obtaining airspace approvals for UAS operations across the country.
- Asylon will be looking at perimeter security use cases, such as automated alarm response and monitoring fence and property lines. As a company, Asylon has built the infrastructure to leverage UAS, robots, software, and AI to automate, observe and report security operations. These core technologies help to ensure that both government and private-sector companies can protect their people, assets, and profits against threats.
- ISight Drone Services will be looking at gravel road inspections as well as other infrastructure inspection use cases. The North Dakota-based company uses UAS to collect data for energy and utilities, precision agriculture, and construction and engineering clients. In April, it assisted state utilities in inspecting storm damage, helping prioritize repair and recovery efforts.
- Phoenix Air Unmanned will be conducting electric utility line inspections with long endurance, heavy-lift aircraft. The company has performed 12,000 miles of BVLOS linear infrastructure inspection flights throughout the Midwest since 2019. Phoenix Air Unmanned assists engineering and surveying firms, capturing high accuracy Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data. Phoenix also provides comprehensive visual inspections, as well as aerial cinematography and video.
- UND Aerospace Foundation will be focusing on search and rescue/emergency services applications. The non-profit organization develops business ventures within private industry and government; including its UAS Responders, who conduct aerial surveillance of wildfires, controlled burns and search and rescue events.
- Workhorse will be testing out small package delivery. The company specializes in fully autonomous delivery UAS, which work in tandem with its all-electric delivery vans. It has more electric delivery vehicles on the road than any other company.
These partnerships are built on a principle of mutual benefit. The test flights of various, diverse use cases by diverse aircraft will provide additional data and testing on the network to ensure that it meets the highest safety standards in all circumstances. Meanwhile, the data on these flights collected by the Vantis network will serve to help bolster the case these operators will make to the FAA in pursuit of type-certification for these aircraft.
“We’re partnering with innovative companies and organizations who are pushing the bounds of possible in the UAS industry,” said Trevor Woods, executive director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which administers Vantis. “By selecting operators with a variety of intended use cases, we are ensuring that Vantis can serve diverse industries in North Dakota and beyond.”