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50 groups in 37 states vie for federal drone test site tag

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2013

The competition for government recognition as a federal-approved test site for drone technology has heated in recent weeks, and now 50 groups from 37 different states are vying for the title.

The tag, from the Federal Aviation Administration, is seen as a means of generating money for states.

There are six such designations available, and technically, the designation itself does not award any money. But the FAA stamp could indirectly bring jobs, industry analysts say — and that, of course, generates tax revenues for flailing state coffers.

"Clearly, we wouldn't be interested unless we thought there was money," said Bob Knauff, a retired general leading a New York-Massachusetts bid, in the L.A. Times report.

Other states making pitches: Oklahoma touts its experience in testing drones for the military. Arizona says it has "perfect flying weather" for almost the entire year. Florida counters that its more severe weather patterns would provide a more comprehensive testing stage.

And the head of a collaborative effort for Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon said: "We think we bring something to the table that is going to be hard to match" in terms of "relatively unpopulated airspace," the L.A. Times quoted.

The competition comes as the privacy argument of drone technology continues to heat.

"This is a highly visible step toward a Big Brother-like state," one Wisconsin resident said to the FAA, as quoted in the L.A. Times.

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