Virtual Reality and Drone Lab Created in Nevada
University of Nevada at Reno and NASA have been working on a partnership for a long time and it finally came to fruition when they released a new lab at Reno-Stead Airport for virtual reality and drones.
It’s called The Nevada Unmanned Aircraft and NextGen Collaborative Environment Laboratory, otherwise known as NUANCE Lab. The lab researches airspace management and also utilizes NASA’s simulation system for airspace. There’s also a workshop next to the building that’s used to create drones.
Governor Brian Sandoval, said, “We’ve been working to lure the top international companies to our state and these efforts put Nevada on the ground floor of the next big thing in aviation. NASA helped define the unlimited boundaries of American ingenuity … and now Nevada is proud to be part of its plan … in the world of advanced aviation.”
The lab is a part of Nevada’s efforts to create a sector for unmanned aerial systems and vehicles. In December 2013, Nevada was named by the Federal Aviation Administration as a mandated UAS site. The operations were then approved by the FAA on June 19th, 2014.
Nevada was able to obtain the contract with NASA largely because of the FAA approval. The researchers are going to be doing a lot of testing in the form of watching unmanned aerial systems in different types of weather among other tests that they will analyze. The NUANCE Lab program hopes to develop a lot of different types of capabilities. Frank Aguilera, the deputy director of the Aerospace Systems Program at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said, “For us, it’s very important to take this technology forward not just in the drone world but also the space program.”
The government of Nevada awarded $150,000 to help develop software for unmanned traffic management and they awarded around $337,000 to help develop a connection to a management simulation platform for airspace. They’re hopeful that they will be able to get a big return on investment. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development projected that the economic impact could be up to $2.5 billion and generate state and local taxes to the tune of $125 million per year.
Those projections are based around a more developed drone industry which is still years away.
GOED Director, Steve Hill, said, “Companies need customers and not just hobbyists. You can make small (hobby drones) from anywhere but I think where Nevada has an opportunity is with large UAVs.”