It’s envisioned that a multitude of devices in the future will fly, walk, swim or crawl to perform valuable or dangerous tasks at very modest expense. Largely because they will be so much cheaper, routine uses in agriculture are planned, environmental monitoring could be improved, forest or crop diseases could be spotted early, fire fighting or search-and-rescue might be enhanced. 

Oregon already has a large aviation industry in such fields as helicopters, small aircraft, aviation components and other technology. Along with the state’s exceptional range of terrain in which to test new devices, this makes it a natural location in which to help unmanned aerial systems grow. 

Further development of the industry, officials say, will require technological advances, regulatory work to ensure privacy rights, improved manufacturing to lower costs, and many other steps. 

Other locations for test sites announced today included universities or facilities in Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.