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Maryland Establishes UAV Test Center

graphic of self driving vehicle.

Autonomous technology is one of those news buzzwords that’s beginning to take hold in reality. In Cumberland, Maryland, an interstate agency is promoting an exciting new venture that involves building an autonomous technology testing center. The center will be used to test both driverless cars and drones.

That (request for proposal) will tell us whether this was a really good idea, or rather, we are kind of pipe-dreaming.

The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority, an interstate agency in West Virginia, has recently announced that they voted unanimously to fund half of a feasibility study. This study will tackle the proposed autonomous technology testing center scheduled to be located at The Greater Cumberland Regional Airport.

Having a technology center in the area means being at the forefront of innovation. It will also give Cumberland, Maryland a chance to be known as one of the country’s leading technology hubs.

William Atkinson, the Program Manager of Appalachian Regional Commission and the Director of the Maryland Department of Planning (Western Maryland Regional Office), will fund the other half of the feasibility study. The study is planned to cost no more than $60,000.

According to Atkinson, “That (request for proposal) will tell us whether this was a really good idea, or if we are kind of pipe-dreaming.”

It was reported that since The Greater Cumberland Regional Airport is a nonprofit, the creation of a building in order to house the technology center could theoretically take place. The site could also be leased back to a certain company down the road.

Logistically building the center is going to cost about $5 million. Half of the fund will be shouldered by the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the other half will in theory come from the state of Maryland.

Drone Center Becomes Autonomous Center

The original plan was to solely build a drone testing center, and now, it has broadened to the creation of an autonomous technology testing center. With the help of Kevon Clark, the Executive Director of the Mineral County Development Authority, Atkinson can already further develop the proposal for this advanced technology center.

Floor plan for testing center.

Because there is an underlying threat to the security of the driverless technology, Atkinson had an idea to include a cybersecurity department for their planned autonomous technology.

“Allegany College has a really good cybersecurity program. So, one of the things they are going to be looking at is room for expansion in that program into autonomous cybersecurity,” Atkinson said.

Alongside Allegany College, Frostburg State University is also looking to be a part of the innovative project. Times News stated that the Appalachian Regional Commission is already funding the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle remote sensing training center for Frostburg State University.

The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority’s proposed technology center has been well-thought-out. Members of the agency do not see any issues that might alarm the Federal Aviation Administration.

The development of an autonomous technology in a specific area has massive and bold perks. It can be used for agriculture, mining, defense operation, and construction purposes. The proposed technology center in Maryland is just the start to a wider modernization around the globe. If the project becomes a success, the area will certainly make its mark in the world of technology.


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