Knowing Nevada: Is the sky still the limit for drones?
The search and rescue industry across the country is in line to receive a strong helping hand from the drone industry.
Northern Nevada companies like Drone America are leading the charge when it comes testing drones in the air for search, rescue, fire aid and much more.
"Search and rescue, that is something you have to learn and you have to sustain yourself while you learn," says Drone America President & CEO Mike Richards. "The only way you learn is to go out and be a part of the operations as we try to do here in the state of Nevada."
Drone America has already received special Federal Aviation Administration permission to fly out of the visual line of sight over Nevada's Walker Lake.
In February, while simulating a search and rescue mission, one of their drones flew just under 40 miles while carrying around 5 pounds of equipment.
"We would expect the drone industry to continue to evolve in many ways," says Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada President & CEO Mike Kazmierski. "As long as we are doing testing and development in this area, we're going to see more and more testing."
All the advances happening in Nevada in 2017 are coming despite the apparent existence of one company that was, at one time, expected to bring in a level of innovation the state had never seen before.
California's Ashima Devices announced a relocation to Reno in August 2014.
The company specializes in search and rescue drones for fire rescue, police aid, heavy duty industrial marine work and global security.
Gov. Brian Sandoval welcomed them to Nevada at a press conference at Reno-Stead Airport.
"Today is part of that marker," said Sandoval in back in 2014. "This is the day where people are going to point to five years from now, 10 years from now, and say, 'This was one of those threshold moments that built a foundation for the new industry in Nevada.'"
Ashima Devices owners promised 400 new jobs in Reno by 2018 at an average salary of $70,000 each.
Today, the company has little online footprint and cannot be found at either their Reno, Nevada, or original Southern California office space.
"In their development process, they ran into a few glitches that eventually caused them to shut down operations or shrink down to where they started," says Kazmierski. "Startups tend to fail and Ashima was a startup.
Back in 2014, the state of Nevada recieved the 'Golden Shovel' award by Area Development magazine for their economic development advancements that year.
Telsa and Switch made massive investments into the Nevada market, but the third largest investment into Nevada was made by Ashima Devices, with $75 million.
Even though Ashima Devices never ended up mass producing products in Nevada, Nevada's drone industry is finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"It's more of building the foundation to put this industry in Nevada." says Richards. "I think Gov. Sandoval has done an excellent job at providing the tools necessary for companies like ourselves to go out there and actually work hard at making it a reality."
In the next year, Drone America hopes to fly over Highway 95 from Reno to Las Vegas. In addition, they're looking at assisting with fire observations around Lake Tahoe and search and rescue at Pyramid Lake.
Drone America has also agreed to partner with NASA to continue proving the industry successful across the state, country and world.