Today, the State of New York made moves to become the Silicon Valley of Drone Technology. Drone-Tech is drawing a lot of investors and New York just promised $5 million for businesses in the industry. Officials say they will jumpstart drone research in the Syracuse-Rome region of the state. Commercially speaking, Manhattan is the part of town where drones could have the most transformative impact. However, New York City is one of the busiest airspaces in the world and quadrocopters buzzing commercial airplanes is not a good situation. But, Rome, New York is much more open and less hazardous for drones to fly and that is exactly what Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) did this past March.
Lockheed launched the Indago and let it soar for ten minutes as it was programmed through a laptop. Lockheed also sees New York as a needing a boost to its economy and believe drones present an interesting opportunity. The groundwork has already been laid, though. In December 2015, the Upstate Revitalization Initiative put up $250 million toward drone initiatives and developing drone flight management systems and policy. The people of upstate New York have fought some of the state’s testing and business implementation due to a Reaper Drone crash into Lake Ontario, but the opportunity is there and Governor Andrew Cuomo is the biggest proponent. New York will host the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships at Governor’s Island coming up and the state is looking for the spotlight as ESPN and its advertisers come to town. GoPro (GPRO) is one of the sponsors for the race and they could see major bumps in share price from the race.
Beyond sponsors and pilots and the even the sport itself getting exposure, the race will allow the country to see drones as more acceptable. A company like Valmie Resources (VMRI) would benefit from the FAA loosening restrictions and letting it apply commercial applications to the market. VMRI has excellent advantages in hardware and software allowing them to make an immediate impact regarding agriculture and industry. In addition, the company wholly-owned subsidiary Vertitek are making fabricated frames for competitors at the Drone Championships.
Elbit Systems (NASDAQ:ESLT) is another company that would benefit like Valmie from looser FAA restriction and a more open-minded public. The company’s unmanned aerial solution squadron is used by the government already and its non-military drones were used by World Cup officials to secure large swathes of area too difficult for helicopters to police effectively. The State of Israel is an important client of ELBT. The nation orders $300 million in systems for command and control of unmanned aerial copters for its Air Force and Army.
A few private companies could be going public soon or could be bought out by larger conglomerates. One of those companies to keep in mind is Airware in San Francisco, which has developed cheap autopilots that will steer drones through complex flights. They were already used to deliver vaccines in Southeast Asia and hunt poachers in South Africa.