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Drone industry council meets for first time

Drone in North Cascades
Freefly Systems’ Alta drone takes to the air in Washington’s North Cascades. (Credit: Freefly Systems)

Washington state officials convened the first meeting of an industry council focusing on drones and related businesses today, after a seminar on the promise and potential perils of unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Focusing on this isn’t just about aerospace and UAVs, it’s about a whole variety of industries that benefit,” Brian Bonlender, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce, told a gathering of business executives, researchers and other experts at the offices of K&L Gates in downtown Seattle.

About a dozen of the attendees went from the large-group gathering to the inaugural meeting of the Unmanned Systems Industry Council, led by John Thornquist, head of Washington state’s Office of Aerospace.

Drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems or UAS, are expected to have an impact on fields ranging from package delivery to agriculture, media production and public safety.  Nationwide, the UAS industry is expected to create 100,000 jobs and add more than $82 billion to the U.S. economy over the decade ahead.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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