They are called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But you likely know them as drones. And they are revolutionizing many industries by increasing efficiencies and cutting costs. These aircraft range in size, and can transform how organizations access and survey land, move goods and build new infrastructure.

Before drone technology can set forth into shared airspace, extensive testing must show it to be both reliable and safe. That is where the Foremost Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Range comes in. Based in the village of Foremost, Alberta, the test range offers more than 700 square nautical miles of restricted airspace. This gives small and medium-sized firms plenty of space to test new drone technologies. It is one of only two places approved by Transport Canada to conduct beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) testing. Integration of BVLOS brings benefits to many industries. Some of those benefits include:

  • agricultural monitoring
  • aerial imaging and mapping
  • safer power and pipeline inspections

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) has funded the Foremost UAS Test Range with more than $1.1 million since 2015. Western Diversification Program funding paid for critical infrastructure to set up the test site in 2015. In 2018, WD funded safety system upgrades that Transport Canada required for BVLOS approval.

More recently, Regional Innovation Ecosystems funding helped the test range develop a comprehensive flight test plan to assess all aspects of drone performance. The test will help evaluate drone collision-avoidance technology. And it will improve operator training to make using drones safer, more reliable and more efficient.

The calibre of testing at the Foremost UAS Test Range will be a key support for new technologies that improve how organizations operate. It will pave the way for Alberta to be a leader in drone technology.

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