North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Commerce, has announced a $33 million investment in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry — of which a majority will be used to build out infrastructure to support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations for UAS across North Dakota.

“Our strong commitment to supporting UAS researchers, entrepreneurs and technology, combined with our open skies, four distinct seasons and industry sectors harnessing the potential of UAS through uses such as automated farming and precision agriculture, ensure North Dakota will continue to grow as a national leader in UAS,” said Burgum.

The statewide BVLOS network will enable UAS efficiencies for state agencies, local communities and commercial sectors, including automated farming, precision agriculture and utility inspection to name a few, according to the Department of Commerce. It will supply the infrastructure required for the command and control of UAS and the required surveillance equipment to support the safe integration of unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System.

Subject matter experts within the state, including at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, will work with federal agencies to ensure regulatory compliance.

With this new commitment, North Dakota will have invested approximately $77 million to advance UAS research and development within the state. North Dakota is home to several UAS industry companies developing technologies and operational models that are supporting the future development of the UAS industry in the United States.