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Drone manufacturing headed to ND

WAHPETON -- The drones are coming, the drones are coming. ComDel Innovation, a Wahpeton company, teamed up with a Gainesville, Fla.-based Unmanned Aerial Systems company to manufacture the first commercial drones in the state. It's the first manu...

WAHPETON - The drones are coming, the drones are coming.  

ComDel Innovation, a Wahpeton company, teamed up with a Gainesville, Fla.-based Unmanned Aerial Systems company to manufacture the first commercial drones in the state.

 

It’s the first manufacturing agreement of its kind in North Dakota, the governor’s office announced on Thursday.

 

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ComDel Innovation President and CEO Jim Albrecht said his company will provide craft for Altavian beginning in the second quarter this year.

 

Commercial UAS, or drone manufacturing, is a relatively new industry in the country but it’s no coincidence a North Dakota company was chosen by Altavian.

 

Albrecht said there is a good ecosystem in the state to support the new industry.

 

The University of North Dakota has a center for UAS research, education and training and North Dakota State University is collaborating on that research, too.

 

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The state also has one of six Federal Aviation Administration sanctioned UAS test sites.

 

"There’s a large application within the state of North Dakota and this region for their UAS technology," Albrecht said. "So, (Altavian’s) thoughts are that as we manufacture product we’ll be delivering the product wherever their customers are."

 

"They feel there will be a large appeal and customer interest within the state of North Dakota," he added.

 

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement that the UAS industry holds great promise and opportunities for future applications.

 

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"This partnership represents another important step in our ongoing work to grow North Dakota’s UAS industry and to become a national hub for UAS manufacturing, research and development," Dalrymple said in a prepared statement.

 

The governor, Albrecht and Altavian COO Thomas Rambo announced the partnership in Bismarck on Thursday.

 

Albrecht said depending on sales, the company could hire 10 to 20 new employees.

 

"We have most of the infrastructure in place but there’s some modest investment required to scale up to provide this product," Albrecht said.

 

The drones manufactured in Wahpeton won’t be the kind you buy and fly around in a backyard, Albrecht said.

 

The drones will be used to inspect oil pipelines or agricultural purposes, and other commercial uses.

 

The UAS market is still new and the FAA doesn’t allow for the free use of commercial drones yet.

 

State leaders have been proactive in attracting UAS companies and research to the state. The state invested more than $20 million for UAS research and to establish the UAS test site at the Grand Forks Air Base, Dalrymple’s release said.

 

ComDel Innovation was formed in 2007 by former 3M employees.

 

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