Cape May County will be a testbed for unmanned aircraft this summer as hopes build that the emerging technology becomes a catalyst for jobs and economic development in the region.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology plans to conduct a small number of drone test flights in July using an airstrip at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May. Flights at the Coast Guard center will be expanded to full-fledged tests this fall over the ocean.
Cape May County Freeholder Will Morey believes drone testing will eventually shift from the Coast Guard center to the Cape May Airport in Lower Township. That, in turn, would help create new development and jobs for the airport and surrounding area, Morey said.
“I think this is the most exciting opportunity for economic activity in Cape May County in 20 years,” he said.
Cape May County and the Delaware River & Bay Authority, the airport’s operator, are collaborating to turn the county into a “hub or minihub” for drone testing, Morey said.
“We’re really in the infancy of all this,” he stated.
In the meantime, the New Jersey Institute of Technology will use the Coast Guard center as a base for drone flights out over the ocean. Michael Chumer, the NJIT professor who will oversee the tests, said the college has permission to fly drones as far as 14.5 nautical miles off the coast.
NJIT, the first New Jersey college granted approval to test drones, will work with the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the state Office of Emergency Management to develop the technology for communications during storms or other catastrophic events.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com