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North Carolina is the location of the newest chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics. The North Carolina chapter will hold its kickoff meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m. EDT during the North Carolina Drone Summit and Flight Expo at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.
AUVSI has 35 local chapters in the United States and around the world that promote the tremendous potential of unmanned systems. AUVSI chapters are comprised of individual and organizational members and provide opportunities for them to network with fellow industry professionals, join community activities and STEM education programs, and participate in other activities to support and promote unmanned systems.
“The creation of AUVSI’s 36th chapter will extend our efforts to communities in North Carolina to stimulate the growth of our members and the industry through advocacy, education and networking opportunities,” said Brian Wynne, AUVSI’s president and CEO. “Together, AUVSI members are working toward a day when autonomous transportation technologies are fully accepted, valued and used to move people, things and data safely and efficiently.”
AUVSI and its chapters host events and conferences to provide opportunities for the global community to come together to discuss important issues and the latest developments in the industry. Among those events is AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL, the largest annual trade show for unmanned systems and robotics, with more than 8,000 attendees, 700 exhibitors spanning more than 20 industries and 150 educational sessions. AUVSI also partners with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to host the annual FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium.
“The chapter will tap into AUVSI’s extensive network to connect our members in North Carolina to thousands of other business executives, researchers and academicians, and policymakers around the world who are also passionate about unmanned systems,” said Darshan Divakaran, the president of AUVSI North Carolina and a UAS program engineer with the Division of Aviation at the North Carolina Department of Transportation. “Our chapter will help showcase how companies in North Carolina are quickly adopting unmanned systems technology and applications and why it’s a great place to develop innovative transportation solutions.”
The Tarheel State has a rich aviation history. Known as the “First in Flight,” in 1903 the Wright Brothers’ first flight was over the sand dunes in Kitty Hawk. In 2017, the North Carolina Department of Transportation was selected as one of nine lead participants in the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), an industry-government collaboration to accelerate safe drone integration.
Through the UAS IPP, North Carolina achieved another aviation milestone when a drone delivered a medical sample to WakeMed Health and Hospital and its central pathology laboratory from one of WakeMed’s nearby facilities.
Also in 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation selected the North Carolina Turnpike Authority as one of ten automated vehicle proving ground test sites that formed a Community of Practice to advance autonomous and connected vehicle technology.
PrecisionHawk, a global leader in developing and integrating commercial drone technology, was instrumental in creating and launching the new chapter. The company, founded in Toronto, Ontario, in 2010, moved its headquarters to Raleigh in 2015. The company was part of the FAA’s Pathfinder Program to conduct research on beyond visual line of sight operations. Today, PrecisionHawk continues to focus on its mission on fostering the adoption of commercial drones to ultimately make the world more sustainable and prosperous.
The North Carolina chapter will officially launch during the North Carolina Drone Summit and Flight Expo. AUVSI’s Wynne will be among the keynote speakers at the symposium. Jay Merkle, executive director of the FAA UAS Integration Office; Marcus Johnson, deputy lead for the NASA Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge; Mario Rubello, vice president of North America for DJI; and BGen Todd Hunt, director of Joint Staff, Joint Force Headquarters, North Carolina National Guard and Assistant Adjutant General for Maneuver, are also scheduled to deliver keynote remarks at the summit.
In addition, Tracy Lamb, AUVSI’s vice president of regulatory and safety affairs and chief pilot, will moderate a panel on AUVSI’s Trusted Operator Program, which certifies UAS flight training based on accepted remote pilot standards and protocols to support the safe and sustainable advancement of the industry. Lamb also will deliver a presentation about TOP during the AUVSI North Carolina Chapter meeting.