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Federal drone test site research program in ND could see 3-year extension

GRAND FORKS - A federal research initiative centered on integrating unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace with ties to North Dakota could see an additional three years of operation.

GRAND FORKS - A federal research initiative centered on integrating unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace with ties to North Dakota could see an additional three years of operation.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced Wednesday the U.S. Senate and House reached an agreement to extend the Federal Aviation Administration's authorization through September 2017.  

Included in the bill is Hoeven’s proposal for a three-year extension of the agency’s UAS test site program, which includes the Northern Plains UAS Test Site headquartered at UND in Grand Forks.

The North Dakota test site has worked on research projects with clients that include using unmanned aircraft to inspect homes for insurance purposes, inspect railways, bridges and other infrastructure, monitor crops and livestock, and simulate beyond line of visual sight flights.  

The test site also has assisted NASA in a research project to test software by flying multiple unmanned aircraft at once.

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