Nevada UAS Test Site Conducts First International Desert Drone Detection Challenge For The UAS Industry

5 August 2010. The FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) conducted its first international Desert Drone Detection (ID3) demonstration to advance airspace safety and surveillance and detection technology. Nevada-based flying drone companies and partner drone detection companies across the U.S. and internationally participated in a major technology demonstration and panel discussion to advance legislation that would make it easier to fully test the potential of drone detection, surveillance, and airspace protective technologies and better protect the National Airspace System from rogue drone operators with unintentional or malicious intent to violate FAA regulations.

In 2016, the FAA expanded its Pathfinder Program that focused on detecting and identifying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flying too close to airports. In November 2016, the FAA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted drone-detection research at the Denver International Airport for the FAA’s Pathfinder Program on UAS Detection at Airports and Critical Infrastructure. The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the State of Nevada acted as the air boss for flight operations for the Denver evaluations.Industry partners involved in the Denver flights included CACI International, Liteye Systems and Sensofusion – all of which are Nevada Teammates. The ID3 continues the evolution of drone-detection research that started with the FAA in 2016.

“There is no more important to advance than this type of technology that helps first responders close the education and enforcement gap, helps protect public outdoor events, and towered airports, and critical infrastructure. These protections allow every American to enjoy the many benefits of living in a democracy and free-market society. Nevada and the NIAS Unmanned Aviation Safety Center of Excellence (NIAS-UAS COE) are setting the conditions to make Nevada the global location of choice to advance innovative autonomous technology,” said Dr. Chris Walach, Executive Director, Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site.

“Events like the Desert Drone Detection Challenge are invaluable opportunities to share industry capabilities and tackle the growing challenge of keeping our National Airspace System safe. Liteye technology is deployed and operational at Airports around the world giving us a unique perspective to share. Our experienced professionals understand the risks and threats to the nation’s airports and are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with industry partners and the aviation community alike,” said Thomas Williamson, Program Manager of Liteye Systems, Inc.

“It was a privilege taking part in this initiative by the NIAS and Nevada UAS Test Site and demonstrating our counter-UAS capabilities.  Detection and surveillance technologies are absolutely critical to securing the National Airspace and enabling drones to benefit society. Advancing legislation to authorize testing and the eventual implementation of counter-UAS solutions is a necessary next step, and an endeavor we are honored to be part of,” said Luke Fox, Founder and CEO of WhiteFox.

“At the core of our relationship with NIAS is the never-ending pursuit of safe integration of UAVs into the national airspace. The Desert Drone Detection Challenge represents another formative step in accomplishing that goal,” said J.B. Bernstein, CEO of AviSight, Inc.

“We believe the ID3 event provides evidence of the rapid maturation of the tools and technologies available to support critical infrastructure and help keep the airspace safe.  Avision UTM, integrated with other detection technologies, offers a consolidated situational awareness dashboard for airports, first responders, and fleet management stakeholders,” said Stas Mozolyuk, CEO of Avision, Inc.

NIAS was pleased to welcome representatives from @McCarran International Airport, @Allegiant Airlines @Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Force at NIAS HQ @Switch InNEVation Center for presentations and technology demonstrations from select Nevada Teammates and industry leaders including: @Liteye Systems, @911 Security, @Fortem Technologies, @RelmaTech, @Whitefox Defense, @Digital Global Systems, @Vorpal, @Avision, and @Avisight.

The ID3 culminated in an industry panel discussion to build the first ID3 Task Force to accelerate FAA policy and procedure that can increase drone detection education, technology testing and development, and safe use of this technology for towered airports and critical infrastructure across Nevada and the U.S. NIAS and ID3 will work collaboratively with Nevada legislators in Nevada and in Washington D.C. to identify and advocate for the legislative and regulatory changes required to advance the autonomous systems industry and ensure we keep the skies safe on behalf the United States!

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About the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS):  As Nevada’s designated agency to manage the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) positions Nevada as the global leader in Autonomous Systems (AS) deployment. NIAS is the synergist, clearinghouse, and learning accelerator establishing the premier smart ecosystem for Autonomous Systems which grows the AS Industry while safely integrating AS into the daily lives of the public. Learn more at

For press inquiries, contact Michael Couch, NIAS at [email protected]


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