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The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the world’s largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to advancing unmanned and robotic vehicle systems, announced on Jan. 22 the launch of a satellite chapter to serve Tampa and southwest Florida to further its reach across the state.
“The formation of a satellite chapter on the southwest coast of Florida is very timely and exciting considering the influx of high-tech companies to the area,” said Steve Myers, vice president of AUVSI’s Florida Peninsula Chapter and CEO of Naples-based Angel Eyes UAV, which provides consulting services for non-military use of unmanned aerial vehicles. “AUVSI will help establish direct communication with key stakeholders at the local level.”
The new satellite chapter, part of the long-established AUVSI Florida Peninsula Chapter, is strategically located to draw support from greater Tampa Bay and other metropolitan areas along Florida’s southwest coast that are creating a growing technology hub. The region is also home to two major combatant commands of the U.S. Department of Defense: the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) and the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
The Tampa Satellite Chapter will focus on building awareness and dialogue about unmanned systems and robotics among the region’s defense, government, commercial and education sectors. It will also bring together leading corporations in the field and create opportunities for public-private partnerships with state and local government and academic entities.
Tampa resident Andrew Wilson, owner and CEO of Quiet Professionals — a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-certified, service-disabled, and veteran-owned small business which provides unmanned aircraft systems services and products — will serve as the satellite chapter’s interim director. A retired highly decorated Special Forces veteran, Wilson learned the value of UAS for defense and law enforcement operations during his decades of leadership and experience in the U.S. Army.
“My goal is to make the AUVSI Tampa Satellite Chapter an active and inclusive organization dedicated to the goals of AUVSI and the Florida Peninsula Chapter, including fostering greater learning and awareness of unmanned vehicles and exploring solutions that benefit the community,” Wilson said. “I look forward to engaging with local and regional companies, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and academic institutions to capitalize on the momentum for unmanned systems that is already building throughout the state.”
The AUVSI Florida Peninsula Chapter also has satellite chapters in Jacksonville, Melbourne, and Miami. The AUVSI Emerald Coast Chapter serves members in northwest Florida’s Panhandle region.
Anyone interested in unmanned systems and robotics technology is welcome to join the Tampa Satellite Chapter. A kick-off event marking the start of the chapter is being planned and details will be provided in a separate announcement.