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Drone corridor between Syracuse and Rome to host 5G test network for unmanned aircraft

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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The 50-mile unmanned-aircraft systems (UAS) corridor between Syracuse and Rome will host a 5G test network for unmanned aircraft. The Open Generation 5G Consortium of MITRE Engenuity, a Virginia nonprofit, has determined the corridor is a “prime location” to launch the nation’s first 5G UAS testing range. A UAS is also referred to as a drone. (Photo credit: NUAIR)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The 50-mile unmanned-aircraft systems (UAS) corridor between Syracuse and Rome will host a 5G test network for unmanned aircraft.

The MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium will bring 5G to the corridor, the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a news release.

MITRE Engenuity’s Open Generation Consortium brings together diverse technical viewpoints from market leaders, innovative startups, industry associations, academics and government liaisons, per its website. MITRE Engenuity is based in McLean, Virginia, according to its LinkedIn page.

Open Generation says it has determined this corridor is a “prime location” to launch the nation’s first 5G unmanned-aircraft systems testing range, a designation that will enhance New York’s position in this emerging technology sector.

“5G is the 5th generation mobile network … [which] enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices,” per the website for Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), a San Diego, California–based semiconductor company.

NUAIR, a Syracuse–based nonprofit organization that provides expertise in unmanned-aircraft systems, is a member of Open Generation. NUAIR manages New York’s 50-mile UAS corridor and is working on advancing 5G innovation in unmanned-aircraft systems.

A UAS includes a drone and equipment used to control its flight. A drone is also referred to in the industry as an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.

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.

The 5G technology for New York’s drone corridor “represents a new milestone for the sector’s continued development in the state,” Hochul’s office said. 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.

“New York will be the first [Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)]-designated UAS test site with a bespoke 5G network,” NUAIR CEO Ken Stewart said. “The industry is looking for an FAA and [Federal Communications Commission] 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.”

New York State made 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 UAS industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley.

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