Governor Hochul Announces New York’s 50-Mile Drone Corridor Road Hosting for the First National Informal Test Network

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Governor Hochul Announces New York's 50-Mile Drone Corridor Road Hosting for the First National Informal Test Network

“Our drone corridor being selected for the launch of the nation’s first 5G unmanned aircraft systems testing range further positions our state -specifically the Central New York and the Mohawk Valley region -as the global leader in the market for this cutting-edge technology,” Governor Hochul said. “Through our continued investment in the drone corridor, we are strengthening and growing our regional economies for generations to come.”

New York State established itself as the nation’s premiere destination for drones and businesses at the forefront of innovation by making a $30 million investment in 2016 to develop the 50-mile flight traffic management system between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome. In total, the state has invested nearly $70 million over the past five years to advance the unmanned aircraft systems industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley.

“Supporting innovative technology and emerging industries that will create the jobs of tomorrow is at the core of ESD’s mission. Both the agency and our regional economic development councils have been very focused on growing the UAS industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley,” Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said. “MITRE’s selection for New York’s Drone Corridor to receive first-in-the-nation 5G technology represents a new milestone for the sector’s continued development in New York State.”

New York receiving the 5G technology for its drone corridor represents a new milestone for the sector’s continued development in the state. Within this corridor, strategic investments are accelerating industry growth by supporting emerging uses in key industries, including agriculture and forest management, transportation and logistics, media and film development, utilities and infrastructure, and public safety.

Story Highlights

  • Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium will bring 5G to the New York State 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor between Syracuse and Rome. Open Generation has determined this corridor is a prime location to launch the nation’s first 5G unmanned aircraft systems testing range, a designation that will greatly enhance New York’s position as a global leader in this emerging technology sector.

  • NUAIR, a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides expertise in unmanned aircraft systems and is a member of Open Generation, manages New York’s 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor and is playing a vital role in advancing 5G innovation in unmanned aircraft systems, also known as UAS. With coordination from NUAIR, the corridor will include an experimentation hub with more than 100 square miles dedicated to 5G beyond-visual-line-of-site testing and long-range flight paths -a capability critical to the commercialization of safe and secure unmanned aircraft systems.

“New York will be the first FAA-designated UAS test site with a bespoke 5G network,” NUAIR CEO Ken Stewart said. “The industry is looking for an FAA and FCC approved communications network that has the capability and reliability needed for safe commercial drone operations. 5G holds the promise of unlocking scalable, economically viable drone operations and we are confident that our work in New York will help determine if 5G is a suitable solution for the UAS industry.”

“This first-in-the-nation 5G UAS test range will advance commercial UAS solutions and showcase the transformative potential of 5G,” said Charles Clancy, senior vice president, general manager of MITRE Labs, and chief futurist. “This initiative is a vital part of MITRE’s work to accelerate our nation’s development and deployment of advanced telecommunications technology.”

Both the Central New York and Mohawk Valley Regions have world leading UAS ecosystems and the technology, resources, and economic incentives needed to conduct advanced 5G testing. The U.S. Air Force has been actively flying large, unmanned aircraft out of Syracuse Airport since 2015 and the city has already started preparing for the ‘fourth revolution’ of drones and 5G technology, replacing their streetlights with ‘smart’ streetlights capable of supporting a 5G communications network. Rome is home to the New York State Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, one of only seven FAA-Designated unmanned aircraft systems test sites in the United States. Owned by Oneida County and managed by NUAIR, the site consists of a highly instrumented unmanned aircraft systems testing facility at GriffissInternational Airport in Rome and is part of New York’s 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems traffic management corridor between Rome to Syracuse.

The test site is part of the ever-growing 3,500-acre Griffiss Business and Technology Park, which is home to a multitude of high-tech, world-leading companies in cyber security, quantum computing, manufacturing and more. Sky Dome will complement the test site at Griffiss, providing year-round, indoor testing of advanced drone technologies, including artificial intelligence-based flight controls and autonomous swarms of small drones. Many in the telecommunications industry consider 5G to be the ideal spectrum for unmanned aircraft systems operations and are looking to have it approved by the FAA and FCC for airborne use in airspace under 400 feet – the typical airspace used for commercial drone operations. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are other bands of unlicensed spectrum used to fly drones, but are not reliable enough for safe, long range drone operations.

The 5G testing in New York will help prove to the FAA and FCC that the 5G cellular network meets acceptable aviation safety requirements, like what would be required for a wired communication or point-to-point radio link. The MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium brings together market leaders, innovative startups, industry associations, academics, and government liaisons to solve complex 5G challenges that no one company can solve alone. This 5G research and development collaborative is leading unmanned aircraft systems over 5G innovation with use-case centric development in areas like emergency response, infrastructure inspection, package delivery, and asset management, creating generational technological impact while unlocking massive economic value.

Senator Joseph Griffo said, “I am pleased that the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium will install the nation’s first 5G Uncrewed Aircraft System test network within the drone corridor managed by NUAIR. This additional resource will help to grow, enhance and further develop UAS and drone-related technology, networks and systems in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York.” Senator John W. Mannion said, “New York continues to grow its leadership position in UAS research and development through partnerships with next generation companies like MITRE Engenuity. With our region hosting the nation’s first 5G UAS testing range, Central New Yorkers are now developing, building, testing, and bringing to market leading technologies while competing – and winning – in a global industry. Thank you to Governor Kathy Hochul, MITRE, and ESD for your partnership and support for upstate New York.”

Senator Rachel May said, “5G technology paired with drones has many possible beneficial commercial uses. This technology has the potential to greatly improve the deployment of drones for infrastructure monitoring, installation of solar technology, faster and more efficient delivery of goods, and many others. It is exciting to see continued investment in our region from innovators.” NUAIR Alliance partners -including New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, DRONERESPONDERS, the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services -will help advance the reality of a cohesive 5G network for scalable unmanned aircraft systems operations. Proving the safety, reliability, and capabilities of 5G technology in the unmanned aircraft systems space will prove the ability to use 5G in many other private and public sectors including government agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense.