Drone test site breaks ground in Henderson

In partnership with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, the city of Henderson broke ground on its Henderson Unmanned Vehicle Range.

While the space is designed to be a drone test site, it’s not the only business in the region to have the idea.

“I think we were ahead of the curve,” said Jonathan Daniels, president of Henderson-based Praxis Aerospace Concepts International and Aerodrome. “I knew more would follow suite in time.”

In the last year, Aerodrome worked with Boulder City to develop a drone airport. The 50-acre Eldorado Droneport is not only for commercial use, but serves as a practice space for those learning how to operate drones — according to federal law, drone pilots must be 500 feet from an airport making Boulder City an ideal space.

The drone airport is currently up and running for private use and has hosted events such as the CES Drone Rodeo.

Developing the droneport was a natural progression for Daniels.

While Praxis specializes in developing and operating laboratory and field facilities for research, the Aerodrome offers training for the future in the industry.

The company created a nine-week certification program for those interested in learning about unmanned aircraft systems, which is another reason Daniels created the droneport.

He added while the space is operational, there are still bigger plans for the site including relocating the certificate program there.

In December, Daniels said the city of Henderson reach out to him to talk about the new Henderson Unmanned Vehicle Range

“It kind of caught us by surprise,” he said. “There are two ways of looking at this. One way to look at it is competition has moved in. The other way is always looking at how we could collaborate in the future.”

Barbra Coffee, the director of economic development for the city, said the new facility was developed to fill a need and has the potential to help attract new drone-specific businesses to Henderson.

Other companies have popped up in the last few years such as the Henderson based Dronesmith Technologies, which declined to comment about the drone site.

City officials and members from the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems attended the groundbreaking Jan. 4 at Nevada State College.

“We are proud to be in a partnership that will lead the way on research and development in this new age of unmanned aerial systems technology,” said Mayor Andy Hafen . “Henderson supports cutting-edge technologies and we look forward to seeing increased testing and the advancement of drone development right here in our community.”

While Daniels is interested to see how things develops, he added he is optimistic on future partnerships and what could come.

To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email mlyle@viewnews.com or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.

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