The Ohio Department of Transportation has selected Springfield as the site for the Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aerial Systems Center. The center will be the hub for Ohio and Indiana’s joint operational efforts to become a test site for unmanned aerial systems.
The Unmanned Aerial Systems Center will be housed in the Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park which sits on the eastern part of Springfield along Route 40.
ODOT will manage the Systems Center in Springfield, which has a two-year lease that will run until June of 2015 at a total cost of $70,000.
The Greater Springfield's Chamber of Commerce Vice-President for Economic Development, Horton Hobbs, IV, says the Unmanned Aerial Systems Center and the Nextedge Research park will have a huge impact on the Clark County area.
"Having that asset and the Nextedge asset here in our community, and their both connected with the fiber optic ring, it really sets us apart and it's a unique opportunity for our community and let alone the state," Hobbs said.
The goal of the Systems Center is to help Ohio and Indiana secure one of six UAS test sites that are being created by the Federal Aviation Administration. The sites will be used to help gather pertinent data before drones are approved to fly into manned airspace in 2015.
Hobbs feels like Ohio will be very attractive as a site to the FAA because of the improvements made at the Springfield-Beckley Airport, the presence of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the work of the Dayton Development Coalition.He explained that all of those elements should be exposed to the FAA.
"Leveraging the assets that currently exist are going to be critically important for us as we move forward and I think it gives us a strategic advantage as a state," Hobbs said.
Ohio and Indiana will be competing against two dozen other applicants from 23 states to become a test site for unmanned aerial systems.