Mar 28, 2013 at 8:01 am
North Dakota faces plenty of competition to be a testing ground for remotely piloted aircraft.
Fifty teams from 39 states are vying to become one of six test sites for unmanned aerial vehicles. Grand Forks is hoping to land one of those test sites.
Long used by the military overseas, there's a push to fly drones domestically to monitor crops, fight wildfires and do other "dull, dirty or dangerous" chores. The expected expansion of drones into the national airspace has alarmed privacy advocates who fear overzealous monitoring.
Before drones can fly alongside planes and helicopters, they must first be tested. Industry experts say whoever gets picked as a test site will see an economic boost. Around 180 non-military jobs in grand forks are already supported by the unmanned aircraft industry. Grand forks is also working with air force officials to lease some 200 acres of land on the G-F-A-F-B to create a U-A-S business tech park. Supporters say it could bring thousands of new jobs to the area.
AP contributed to story
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