- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) - “The skies are open for business in North Dakota.”

That statement was how John Perry, CEO of the Florida-based unmanned aerial system company Altavian, described the milestone occasion of the first drone manufactured in North Dakota as it was rolled out Friday, May 22.

The unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) machinery was built at ComDel Innovation in Wahpeton. The company signed an agreement with Altavian to manufacture the UAS drones and components in Wahpeton.

Because of the partnership, ComDel hosted the celebration of the roll-out with representatives from both companies as well as government officials present, the Wahpeton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1eRyrVr ) reported.

“This is a fairly mature technology and is already being used by public agencies,” Perry said at the event. “The recent changes in the regulations now allows for operations so what we really see coming is a big scale-up in the industry.

“Our partnership with ComDel is about being able to scale-up that manufacturing to meet this market demand and at the same time maintain that very high level of quality.”

Two Altavian UAS models were on display at ComDel Friday for guests to view and ask questions.

One was a fixed wing aircraft called the Nova F6500, an all-electric drone that provides 3-D mapping and real time thermal inferred video with high definition.

The other model was an octocopter, titled the Nova R8400. Also an electric aircraft, this drone is built with vertical takeoff, landing and hovering capabilities and can be used for inspection and is able to better navigate through obstacles.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who was present during the unveiling at the ComDel Innovation facility, said the technology has the ability to be used in various agricultural tasks. It can be used to check crop health, maximize outputs, notice deficiency in nutrients, review plant populations, monitor livestock herd health and oversee grazing patterns.

“They are data acquisition tools,” Perry said. “This is information for the farmer. That is information for the civil engineer doing projects - the ability to go out in the field and turn out data for better managing assets and helping the environment. Those are the things we do.”

In a press release, Sen. John Hoeven, who was unable to attend the event due to responsibilities in Washington, said it marks an important step forward for the UAS industry in North Dakota.

“I want to thank leaders at ComDel and Altavian for coming together and having the vision needed to achieve this milestone,” Hoeven said. “The UAS they are manufacturing is used in the energy and agriculture industries to survey and gather data, so it is only natural to manufacture it here, given our leadership in UAS, ag and energy.”

“We are very excited to fill this role in the UAS ecosystem, helping to bring new business opportunities to our state and securing the state’s leadership in the industry,” ComDel Innovation CEO and President Jim Albrecht said. “We are grateful to Altavian for partnering with us to make North Dakota manufactured UAS a reality.”

“ComDel is really part of a wider effort in this state. The business community and leadership has really been pushing to bring the drone industry in and it’s been tremendously successful,” Perry said. “Today signals that communities like Wahpeton are ready to pursue the next generation of technology.”

Following comments from other leaders such as Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and Wahpeton Mayor Meryl Hansey, Perry announced the two companies were donating the first UAS to the Fargo Air Museum.

___

Information from: Wahpeton Daily News, http://www.wahpetondailynews.com

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