North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley visited North Dakota State on Tuesday to learn about unmanned aerial system research being done through NDSU.
Wrigley’s visit included a speech in the Research 1 building about North Dakota’s use for UAS technologies, as well as a tour of the facilities NDSU uses to conduct UAS research.
Wrigley toured agricultural plots and the Center for Computationally Assisted Science and Technology, along with other research facilities.
He addressed North Dakota is a state that has an economy primarily based upon commodity goods, such as agriculture and natural resources.
Wrigley also discussed Elbit Systems, the largest defense contractor in Israel.
The lieutenant governor said the company has been involved in UAS research at NDSU, and this summer the company will be partnering with NDSU to fly a large UAS over a 40-by-4 mile corridor west of Hillsboro, N.D.
Local farmers will receive “actual intelligence that will help with crops and the utilization of their land,” Wrigley said.
Wrigley also referenced how important research at institutions like NDSU are.
He spoke of how for a long period, the carbon in the Bakken region was thought to be unusable, but due to research at universities like NDSU that have changed the technology used to produce oil, there is no longer a lack of use of Bakken oil due to inaccessability.
Wrigley said that higher education will continue to be prioritized through the next budget session.
“We’re going to make serious judgements about what to prioritize the next go-around,” he said about himself and North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple.
Wrigley said when one looks at the UAS industry as it is, the future is unknown at this point because the industry has not fully developed yet.
When one looks at the commercial applications for UAS, it should be “exciting to entrepreneurs … and should be exciting for us consumers too,” Wrigley said.
“Here in North Dakota, we are the epicenter of (UAS technology in the United States),” he added.
On a state level, Wrigley said UAS will be used for infrastructure, flood control and disaster response, as well as many other uses.