Why are foreign UAS Companies coming to the U.S.?

Bjorn Forsdal is the President of Robot Aviation USA, an international company based in Norway.  Robot aviation develops and produces unmanned aircraft systems designed to deliver a working solution for the end user.  Their systems will typically be used in inspecting, monitoring, surveying and helping search and rescue operations.  In 2016, Robot Aviation established its US base of operations in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Bjorn is here to talk about Robot Aviation, its products, autonomous and beyond line of flight operations and why the company decided to locate in Grand Forks. We’ll also hear from Brian Opp, Manager of Aviation Business Development at the North Dakota Department of Commerce who will give us some insights into why the North Dakota UAS economy is attractive to foreign investment by companies like Robot Aviation.

In This Episode

  • Why North Dakota is Attractive to UAS Development. Brian Opp, from the North Dakota Department of Commerce provides a brief overview of what makes the state attractive to UAS development.
  • About Robot Aviation. Bjorn Forsdal, President of Robot Aviation USA talks about the company and how it was founded.  The company manufactures unmanned aircraft systems for inspecting, monitoring, surveying and helping search and rescue operations.  The company is based in Norway and in 2016, the leadership decided to enter the U.S. market and set up operations in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
  • Reason For Locating in North Dakota. Bjorn cites the assets of the area, a positive business climate and a personal and proactive outreach by North Dakota officials as reasons for why the company chose to set up operations in Grand Forks.  Brian describes the programs and outreach efforts designed to assist foreign companies in making their locational decisions.
  • Progress To Date. Since setting up operations in the fall of 2016, Robot Aviation has established networks with utility companies, exhibited at AUVSI and announced the production of a new UAS helicopter drone specially designed for the U.S. market.
  • Beyond Visual Line Of Site.  The State of North Dakota is about to embark on a beyond visual line of site demonstration project. Brian describes the parameters of the study and Bjorn talks about Robot Aviation’s experience with BVLOS and autonomous flight.  Brian also discusses a part of the study geared to establishing a traffic control system for small UAS.
  • Doing Business in the U.S.  According to Bjorn, doing business in the United States is similar to Norway, with perhaps U.S. companies do a better job at marketing than their Norwegian counterparts. In the U.S.  Agriculture use in Europe is much more common than in the United States, but Bjorn believes that’s because U.S. regulations have not yet advanced to the level that encourages such applications.  He’s hoping this will change and that Robot Aviation will be well positioned to take advantage of autonomous and BVLOS operations in the U.S. in the years ahead.
  • Closing.

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