Speaking at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International ‘Xponential 2017’ event, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (below right) announced the establishment of the Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence to champion the expansion of the burgeoning industry in the state.
The Center, which will be operated by Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), is in direct response to recommendations made by the Commonwealth’s Unmanned Systems Commission and discussions with industry leaders from across the state.
Virginia is home to a vast array of autonomy-related assets, as well as an FAA test site (Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership) established in 2013. Virginia has garnered a reputation as a leader in autonomous systems, with industry estimates consistently placing the Commonwealth among the top 10 states positioned to reap the largest economic benefit from the industry’s US$82bn forecasted economic impact through 2025.
The newly established Center will serve as the ombudsman and advocate for this industry in the Commonwealth and will as act as a champion for the development and deployment of all aspects of the autonomous systems industry. In addition to advocacy, the Center will also serve as a clearinghouse and coordination point for related information, assets, and programs throughout Virginia.
“The autonomous systems industry is one of the cornerstones of the new Virginia economy,” said McAuliffe. “With the establishment of the Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence, we will send a clear message that Virginia is open for unmanned systems business. Over the past three years, we’ve made tremendous progress to support this emerging industry, and we’ll continue our efforts to cut red-tape and open the door for further growth.”
Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, Karen Jackson, added, “Virginia has already established itself as a leader in the autonomous systems industry. In order for the Commonwealth to continue to grow in this arena, it is essential that we create an epicenter that drives collaboration, facilitates information sharing, and provides streamlined access to all of our world-class assets.”
Ed Albrigo, president and CEO of CIT, commented, “We’re excited about the future of unmanned systems and thank Governor McAuliffe and Secretary Jackson for their leadership in laying the groundwork that has helped prime the industry for significant growth in Virginia. We look forward to becoming a proponent for Virginia and will promote collaboration with businesses, investors, universities, entrepreneurs and government organizations to build a world class ecosystem that will create opportunities for every region of the Commonwealth.”