State leaders see the unmanned aerial vehicle industry (drones) becoming a big part of the Nevada economy, a state official told lawmakers at the Legislature.
Nevada is already is a center for the military deployment of this flying technology, but the state sees many commercial applications as well, said Steve Hill, the executive director of the Nevada Office of Economic Development. Nevada’s wide open terrain is ideal for the industry, Hill added.
“It (drone technology) combines assets Nevada has,” Hill said. “We have expertise in this area. We do research in this area and we already have the center for training in this area because of the military.
“We have the best air space of any state in the country to test these,” Hill said. “And that provides a safe and secure environment for working out the issues around security and things like that. So we think Nevada offers the perfect testing ground.
“It’s easy to see the military application for drone technology, but Hill said the commercial uses are many.
“I will give you a couple of examples and let your mind roam,” Hill said in an interview outside the Senate Finance Committee. “If we are fighting a forest fire, you can send something up to look at that. If you had any other natural disaster, you can send something up to watch what is happening and get real-time information.”
The technology could bring cell service to remote areas, Hill said.
“Let’s say you are in a remote area and need cell service. Why can’t you turn a drone into a permanent cell tower? From 60,000 feet up – that can cover a huge area instead of cell towers every few miles. So you can bounce the cell service off the drone.
“They are so light and efficient that they can stay airborne for a long time. They are easy to replace, so you just bring one in, fly another one (out).
“If a mining company wants to figure out what is underground, you can fly a drone across the area and use that as a signal instead of driving over it. You could do it so much more quickly and much more inexpensively. There are all kinds of commercial applications.”
THE MOVIE INDUSTRY DOESN’T seem as promising as the drone industry for Nevada.
The state is at a disadvantage in attracting move companies because other states offer incentives Nevada does not.
“In my opinion, there are other states that have instituted film incentives that, frankly, are not economically sound,” Hill said.
The movie industry comes to Nevada when it has to, Hill said. Where else are you going to make The Hangover (2009, Las Vegas) Oceans’ Eleven (1961, 2001, Las Vegas) or Kingpin (1996, Reno)?
“For the most part, productions are here when they have to be here,” Hill said. “We are relatively uncompetitive when there is a choice.”
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