Virginia governor creates state unmanned systems commission

By Patrick C. Miller | June 18, 2015

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed an executive order establishing the Virginia Unmanned Systems Commission (VUSC).

According to the governor’s office, the commission’s objective is to bring public and private sector experts together to make recommendations that assist Virginia in becoming a national leader in unmanned systems.

"Capitalizing on Virginia’s advantages in the unmanned systems industry is key to building a new Virginia economy," McAuliffe said. "This executive order will lay the foundation for my administration's efforts to make this Commonwealth the world's leader in unmanned systems and seize the enormous economic opportunities that accompany growing this industry.”

VUSC is expected be a key asset in charting the way forward in growing the unmanned systems industry, as well as creating new jobs and economic opportunities across Virginia, McAuliffe said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia—an advocate for unmanned aerial system (UAS)—said that because the state is home to some the nation’s top defense and technology companies, the unmanned systems industry offers “enormous potential” for the public and private sectors.

“This commission will focus on ways we can strengthen Virginia’s position to take advantage of all economic and technological development that this growing industry has to offer,” he said.

The executive order went into effect immediately and will remain in effect for a year unless amended or rescinded by another executive order.

Virginia is home to a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS test-site to develop unmanned aerial technologies through the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP). 

Commission members—who serve in an advisory role—will include Virginia’s secretaries of technology, commerce and trade; education; veterans and defense affairs; two representatives from the state’s congressional delegation; and 11 citizens appointed by the governor.

VUSC’s objectives are to identify unmanned systems industries in Virginia; determine the challenges and needs of the industry; make recommendations to encourage the industry’s development; market the industry; provide an interim report to the governor by Nov. 30 this year; and issue an annual report of its findings.

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