Drones could be good for business locally

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 28, 2014

Drones appear to be ubiquitous today; at least with the press they are receiving.

Drones, or UAVs for unmanned aerial vehicles, can do more than be a “spy in the sky” or the delivery system for cruise missiles. There are many things they can do that can help us in our everyday life without being intrusive, such as helping fight forest fires and probably deliver water or firefighting chemicals in the same manner that military drones deliver weapons on enemy targets. The UAVs also could be put to farming use helping to pinpoint areas in a field that needed pesticide or fertilizer application — and apply those materials.

Here in Picayune there is the potential of hearing drones being tested nearby. Stennis Space Center is seeking to expand its restricted air space, which would make a great place for such testing. Camp Shelby, the Mississippi National Guard facility just to our north, is seeking to train drone operators. Though Camp Shelby would be primarily for military drones, hopefully drones for civilian applications could be tested there.

What would be better for Picayune and Pearl River County would be to locate a drone manufacturing plant here, especially for drones to used for civilian purposes.

UAVs are robots that fly, and each year the county has a team of teenagers who design and build robots for competition in the FIRST program sponsored by Stennis Space Center. Elementary students are learning robotics in a FIRST Lego program and both high school and elementary students are working on robotic projects in the Navy’s SeaPerch program through the Navy’s lab at Stennis.

A drone manufacturing plant here might be a good place for them to work after graduation.