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Technology

A Silicon Valley For Drones, In North Dakota (nytimes.com) 31

An anonymous reader writes: Commercial drone development has come a long way in the past five years or so, but (as evidenced by the near miss in Italy) they still aren't something you'd want to see crowding our skies. They're not terribly reliable, they have a pretty short range, and they're loud. Clearly, there's an even longer road ahead to turn them into everyday tools. Silicon Valley may seem like a natural hotbed for development, but it turns out North Dakota might end up being where bleeding-edge drone development happens. "North Dakota has spent about $34 million fostering the state's unmanned aerial vehicle business, most notably with a civilian industrial park for drones near Grand Forks Air Force Base. The base, a former Cold War installation, now flies nothing but robot aircraft for the United States military and Customs and Border Protection."

Testing drones in North Dakota, with its wide-open spaces, farms, and oil fields, neatly sidesteps many of the safety and privacy issues facing drones in more populated areas. The state is also fostering drone pilots: "[T]he University of North Dakota, which already trains many of the nation's commercial pilots and the air traffic controllers of some 18 countries, has 200 students learning to fly drones in a four-year program that started in 2009; 61 students have graduated from it. North Dakota State University, in Fargo, has also started teaching drone courses."

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A Silicon Valley For Drones, In North Dakota

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  • Deja vu (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ahnahmoley ( 3688049 ) on Friday December 25, 2015 @10:35AM (#51181923)
    http://m.slashdot.org/story/30... [slashdot.org] Now with added "34 million dollars = silicon valley hur durr!"
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Beyond the dup issue, I am just super uninterested in UAVs and their technology. Am I alone in this? Note, I am generally interested in computing, engineering and technology; and interested in aviation, having owned a small plane and pilot's license... but this "drones drones drones" stuff is kind of like the "why don't girls do STEM" topic for me. Only interesting once.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        billionaires have little interest either, other than trying to monopolize a new fad market. They don't care about the actual potential of the technology. Same goes for IoT BTW.

        There's no reason to be interested in UAVs right now unless you are engineering flight systems control software, or are disturbed by how the billionaires are lobbying for very destructive laws ultimately aimed at monopolizing the market. There is no reason to be interested in Girls in STEM, unless you know a girl, and are disturbed by

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          The biggest problem in getting women in STEM is that much of the culture around technology that develops in the younger years is heavily male-dominated in an outcast sort of way. Many of the boys that start playing with technology from childhood are those that don't fit-in well in other groups, and either have chosen solo hobbies or not been given the opportunity to participate with their peers and basically been stuck with solo hobbies. If they're smart then technological pursuits are a great avenue for
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Unfortunately I can't think of a good way to break this cycle.

            The cycle of people doing whatever the hell they please instead of being tagged at birth for the sake of a delusional equality-utopia that will never be?

            The horror.

            You know what the problem in getting women in STEM is?

            Bic Pens For Women.

            There isn't a problem. Constant, insulting pandering will cause one though.

  • Fine (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "A Silicon Valley For Drones"

    Hipsters on LSD flying drones? Yeah, that will work out just fine.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whenever a journalist makes a comparison to a successful company, area or person whatever he's comparing to ends up not meeting the hype.

    Metro Atlanta wanted to call itself the "Silicon Forest". We all heard entrepreneurs being called the next Bill Gates or companies being called the next Microsoft or Apple.

    North Dakota is fucking North Dakota! It gets dark too early in the Winter. It always has the worst snow storms in the country. It's over a thousand miles from the ocean - that's why aviation is so big t

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

      North Dakota is fucking North Dakota! It gets dark too early in the Winter. It always has the worst snow storms in the country.

      Plus, there's only like 14 people in the entire state. And apparently 8 of them are building drones and waiting for Spring so they can go outside and fly them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      North Dakota is fucking North Dakota! It gets dark too early in the Winter. It always has the worst snow storms in the country. It's over a thousand miles from the ocean - that's why aviation is so big there: people need to get the fuck out of there ASAP! N. Dakota will be the place where ballistic - get anywhere in the World in 30 minutes or less - transportation! Why? Because it's fucking N. Dakota!

      Sounds like ideal progressive-hipster-douchebag repellent. Maybe that's the real business opportunity here?

  • I heard the Instructors drone on and on for the entire semester. Tim S.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They're not terribly reliable

    False. Despite the recent media hyperbole about a scant few crashes, most drones are exceptionally reliable, especially if you have any understanding about how complicated their flight is.

    they're loud.

    False. Predators or reapers with their full sized jet turbines might be loud, but the vast majority of what we're calling drones today are propelled by electric motors. They are very quiet compared to internal combustion powered vehicles of all kinds, including drones or model aircraft.

    there's an even longer road ahead to turn them into everyday tools

    False. They are already well establis

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    They're not terribly reliable, they have a pretty short range, and they're loud.

    I have one that flies over 100 Km, that's not "short" by any means.

    Reliable? An electric engine is about as reliable as you can get and the Flight Controllers (consumer versions) work fine when properly used and set up.

    Loud? At 10 meters you can barely hear most of mine, at 100 meters you won't hear any of them.

    Hardly loud....

  • Similar amounts of public money has been spent in Aberport, West Wales, where the Watchkeeper drone is tested. It hasn't really translated into many local jobs, but it's one of the only airspaces in Europe where (military) drone & manned flight is allowed.

  • What's happened in ND is the drone companies have lobbied to pass laws to give law enforcement there the authority to use drones as weapons against the citizens there. Since there are so few people in ND and since the politicians there are so incompetent and corrupt, they just let industry and the cops do whatever they want. It's idiotic. And unconstitutional.

How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One to hold the giraffe and one to fill the bathtub with brightly colored power tools.

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