Drones to Deliver Library Books

Drones to Deliver Library Books to Kids in Christiansburg via Wing Partnership

Montgomery County, VA – A recent article by The Washington Post describes a new pilot program between Wing, a drone delivery service, and Montgomery County Public Schools. The company has partnered with the school system to use drones to deliver library books to students in the Christiansburg area this summer. The deliveries will begin the week of June 8, 2020.

The idea was hatched by Blacksburg Middle School librarian Kelly Passek. Here is what she had to say about the new program in the article:


“I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone.”

Wing started drone delivery of food, beverages, medications, and packages to select Christiansburg customers in October 2019. Virginia’s New River Valley is an expanding market for the unmanned systems industry, including drones. Learn more about the growth of this industry in our region here.

Read the entire article from The Washington Post here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/06/10/wing-library-book-drone-delivery/

See a video from Wing about the project here:
https://medium.com/wing-aviation/wing-delivers-library-books-to-students-in-virginia-b2cd0ad86551

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Torc Robotics Plans to Grow 50% by End of 2020

Torc Robotics Plans to Grow Company 50% by End of 2020

Press Release from Torc Robotics

Blacksburg, VA– Torc Robotics, a leader in self-driving vehicle systems, continues its strong recruiting efforts even under social distancing and safer-at-home orders. Torc has steadily added new employees since January and plans to increase the company size by more than 50 percent before year end.

Torc’s recruiting process has changed to accommodate personal safety during the pandemic. “We are very fortunate that most of us can work from home – and our team has been using this time to scale up our virtual testing and future fleet infrastructure,” said Michael Fleming, Torc’s CEO.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve built our culture on winning teams and find that Torc’rs are great at solving problems – including bringing on new team members during a pandemic,” he said.

Adaptations for full-time hiring have included video panel interviews and additional relocation assistance for full-time employees. Until the Torc offices reopen, new hires are working from home and being onboarded remotely. A new cohort of team members started this week, and all are quickly learning the ropes, according to Fleming.

Torc is hiring across multiple software engineering areas, including infrastructure and tools, web development, Linux, and cloud technology.

Torc also remains committed to summer internships and co-op positions, which have been transformed to remote work opportunities for summer 2020. Students in these positions are fully embedded into technical teams and interact with Torc’rs across the company via coffee chats, lunch & learns, and other collaboration opportunities.

The company’s continued growth supports Torc’s automated truck development in partnership with Daimler Trucks North America, the market leader in trucking. “Over the next several years, we will continue to hire aggressively,” said Fleming. “Commercializing automated trucks on public roads is complex and we will need additional talent to get us there,” he said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint and our team is committed to the long-term.”

To accommodate its growing team, Torc is completing a new headquarters expansion later this year, which will add nearly 16,000 square feet and is designing additional future expansion projects.

Torc develops Level 4 self-driving technology, which does not require human intervention, but operates within specific areas or use cases, such as locations, or types of roads. Torc partners with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and mobility companies to integrate the technology on their vehicle platforms. In 2019, Torc joined the Daimler Trucks family to partner on commercializing self-driving truck technology.

“At Torc, our mission is to save lives through self-driving technology,” Fleming said.

“The fastest path to commercialized is through OEMs and the strongest business case is in trucking.”

To learn more about employment opportunities at Torc Robotics, visit their Careers page.

About Torc Robotics: Torc Robotics, headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, is a member of the Daimler Trucks family. Torc offers a complete self-driving vehicle software and integration solution and is currently focusing on commercializing self-driving trucks. Torc has more than 10 years of experience in automating heavy equipment for safety-critical applications.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Sky-high deliveries benefit NRV small businesses, consumers during pandemic

From Virginia Tech — Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone

Montgomery County, VA – Like most restaurant owners across the nation in the past month, Luke and Cassie Brugh have had to think fast to keep their business afloat. They turned their Christiansburg coffee shop into a curbside-only business, with the bulk of their orders coming through an app, to comply with government orders to limit customer contact because of COVID-19.

But in navigating the challenges of this shuffle, the Brughs have discovered a silver lining. Brugh Coffee is selling double the cans of its cold brew java — by drone. That’s compared with cold brew sales through its new curbside business.

These air deliveries are made possible by Wing, a drone delivery enterprise and offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet that has seen a dramatic increase in its business since the pandemic began.

Wing recently added Brugh Coffee and other Christiansburg restaurants — Mockingbird Cafe and Gran Rodeo — to its food delivery options.

From March to early April, Wing saw a 350 percent jump in the number of people signing up for its services across its four sites in three continents. They are in Christiansburg, Virginia; Helsinki Finland; and two cities in Australia, Canberra and Logan City, said spokesman Jacob Demmitt.

Similarly, in a two-week period in early April, the company had 1,000 deliveries globally, a “dramatic increase” from the typical two-week business model, he said.

In October 2019, Wing launched the commercial drone delivery service in Christiansburg with the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP). MAAP is a test site for unmanned aircraft systems designated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Through the partnership, Wing also offers drone delivery from Walgreens, FedEx, and Sugar Magnolia, a Blacksburg gift and candy shop, in addition to the newly added businesses. Customers order items via Wing’s app, and the products are delivered quickly, sometimes in as little as three to five minutes to a designated area near the consumer’s home. Hovering in the air, the drone extends the package to the ground, where it lands softly.

“It became clear early on [in the pandemic] that delivery services were becoming more and more important,” said Demmitt, noting that Wing began its partnerships with Brugh Coffee and Mockingbird Cafe at the start of COVID-19. “It came at a time when it was getting harder and harder for them to reach customers.”

Brugh Coffee sells bags of coffee and cold brew for Wing drone delivery, but it hopes to add hot coffee drinks in the future, Luke Brugh said.

“This was kind of ideal for us as small business owners,” he said. “It’s been good to have that extra income.”

In addition to adding new businesses, Wing has changed its product catalog for Walgreens to match customers’ pandemic needs. For example, the service added grocery staples, including baby food, pasta, and snacks, along with children’s toys and games. Toilet paper and sidewalk chalk, in particular, have been big sellers, Demmitt said.

“It’s a small relief, but we wanted to do whatever we could to help,” he said.

As the success of Wing’s drone delivery grows, particularly during the pandemic, MAAP plans to share information and lessons learned with the FAA and other government entities, said Mark Blanks, director of MAAP.

“It is a unique situation, but at the same time, it really does showcase why this is such a good technology and opportunity to benefit people,” he said. “This is the first place in the country that this is happening, which means everybody’s watching.”

Rommelyn and Zach Coffren and their four-year-old son, Noah, began ordering from Wing last fall. The drone service is just as important now that the couple, both Virginia Tech alumni and university employees, are working from their Christiansburg home, caring for their son, and following social distancing guidelines.

Recently, the family watched a movie together in their backyard, and they ordered Walgreens snacks by drone. Also, this month, the Coffrens ordered lunch from Gran Rodeo, one of their favorite restaurants. It arrived via three separate drone deliveries due to weight restrictions.

The Coffrens, who were interviewed for a recent NBC Nightly News segment about drone delivery, watched as each drone hovered over their backyard, lowering street tacos, beans and rice, a burrito, and arroz con pollo to the ground, one at a time. The family also is fielding inquiries from their friends about how to use the Wing app.

“The drone deliveries have been a nice distraction” from COVID-19, said Rommelyn Coffren. “It’s a way for us to still feel connected to the community to locations that we would patronize anyway.”

 

Aeroprobe Corporation Selected to Participate in Virginia’s VALET Program

RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) announced the acceptance of Aeroprobe Corporation, a Montgomery County company, into its two-year Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program. The VALET program assists companies in the Commonwealth that are committed to international exporting as a growth strategy. To participate, each business must meet both quantitative and qualitative selection criteria. Participating firms are chosen based on their dedication to growing export sales. To date, 348 Virginia companies have been accepted to participate in the VALET program.

“Increasing trade and trade-related jobs in Virginia are among VEDP’s top priorities,” said VEDP Executive Vice President Jason El Koubi. “Executed by our world-class International Trade team, the VALET program has a proven track record of helping Virginia businesses increase their export sales, contributing economic growth and ensuring that Virginia remains competitive in the global marketplace.”

“The VALET program puts participating companies on the fast track to international business growth by connecting them with the necessary tools for successful international sales. We are excited to welcome Aeroprobe Corporation into the VALET Program and look forward to working with them over the course of the next two years.” – Stephanie Agee, Vice President of International Trade

Currently, the VALET program has 44 companies as participants. The program provides participating companies with export planning services and assistance from a team of experienced international service providers to help meet the companies’ international business goals. These private sector service providers contribute essential expertise to assist companies in executing export plans and include attorneys, web designers, bankers, translators, accountants, and freight forwarders.

The Commonwealth of Virginia exports more than $35 billion in goods and services annually. Exports of Virginia’s products and services to the world are vital to the growth of the Commonwealth, supporting more than 257,000 jobs and generating $2 billion in annual tax revenue. VEDP offers numerous programs to assist Virginia companies with selling into the global marketplace and has a network of international market research consultants covering more than 70 countries around the globe.

Aeroprobe Corporation

Aeroprobe is the world’s leading producer of air data and flow measurement systems for the aerospace, automotive, turbomachinery, and wind energy industries around the world. Aeroprobe has been a trusted partner to designers, engineers, researchers, and pilots since 1994. The company’s mission is to exceed customer expectations by providing accurate, high quality, reliable measurement systems. For more information, please visit http://www.aeroprobe.com.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1995 to encourage, stimulate, and support the development and expansion of the economy of the Commonwealth. To accomplish its objectives of promoting economic expansion within the Commonwealth, the Partnership focuses its efforts on business recruitment, expansion and international trade development.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

virginia business; new river valley

Virginia Business Features NRV Leaders in ‘100 People to Meet in 2020’

New River Valley, VAVirginia Business released its inaugural list of Virginians you should get to know this year including innovators, builders, and educators in the NRV.

Innovators
Virginia has no dearth of creative, visionary entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Representing industries ranging from hemp farming to autonomous vehicles and blockchain, they’re moving the needle.

Steven Critchfield, President and CEO, MOVA Technologies; owner, West Main Development, Pulaski
Matt Hagan, Owner and farmer, Truharvest Farms, Christiansburg
Dan Larimer, Chief technology officer, Block.one, Blacksburg

Builders
Be it residential or commercial, historic renovation or new construction, from small-scale, mixed-use developments to massive interstate highway projects, these are some of the many professionals who are leaving their imprint on Virginia’s landscape.

Luke Allison, Entrepreneur, Pulaski

Educators
When Virginia regained the No. 1 ranking on CNBC’s annual Top States for Business list this year, one of the factors that put the Old Dominion over the top was our “wealth of colleges and universities,” lauded by CNBC as “the best in the nation.” These are some of the educators, researchers and administrators who helped the commonwealth earn that reputation.

Mark Blanks, Director, Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, Blacksburg
Tom Dingus, Executive director, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Blacksburg
Brandy Salmon, Managing director, Virginia Tech Innovation Campus; associate vice president for clinical and translational research, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg and Alexandria

Rainmakers
Through their outreach, marketing and incentives, these are people who attract and grow businesses, making the commonwealth wealthier.

Donna Gambrell, President and CEO, Appalachian Community Capital, Christiansburg

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

vtti; Automated Driving System; unmanned systems

VTTI Receives Funding for Automated Vehicle Research

Blacksburg, VA Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) was awarded two U.S. Department of Transportation grants totaling $15 million to continue research on the safe integration of autonomous vehicles into U.S. roadways.

Out of the 73 proposals, seven grants were awarded by the Automated Driving System Demonstration Grants program. This program provides federal funding to projects in order to test how to safely integrate automated driving systems on U.S. roadways. VTTI was the only organization to receive two grants, each $7.5 million, to fund two separate projects: automated driving systems and public safety and automated trucks and mixed fleets. VTTI is the biggest transportation research institute in the U.S. with the largest group of driving safety researchers in the world and an infrastructure worth more than $110 million.

The first project, automated driving systems and public safety, will focus on showing how highly automated vehicles can safely adapt to encounters with public safety, which is very unpredictable by nature. VTTI is collaborating with stakeholders like Transurban, the Virginia Department of Transportation, public safety stakeholders, the Global Center for Automotive Performance, and a Consortium of Automotive Manufacturers organized through CAMP LLC. Testing of the public safety scenarios will take place on the I-95 Express Lanes which are operated by Transurban.

The second project, automated trucks and mixed fleets, is working with the trucking industry to provide clear guidelines on how to safely implement and benefit from trucks with automated driving systems. Along with the development of a fleet concept of operations, demonstrations will take place on public roadways.

“VTTI has assembled a world-class 17-member team that includes automated driving system technology developers, trucking fleets, six state departments of transportation, and other supporting organizations, to tackle this topic.”
– Martin Walker, VTTI Senior Research Associate

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

auvsi, new river valley, Virginia, unmanned systems, drones

AUVSI Ridge & Valley Stays at the Forefront of Unmanned Systems

Blacksburg, VA – Unmanned system technologies are rapidly maturing into indispensable tools for civil service, commerce, science, and security. These tools are increasingly connected to one another, and to the human workers they support, creating partnerships that offer fantastic new opportunities — and new technical challenges. Other sorts of partnerships have emerged to address these challenges and opportunities – from industry/government/academic consortia to externally funded entrepreneurial ventures. Come meet with us this Fall in the beautiful New River Valley as we discuss the latest advances in unmanned systems.

Tuesday Morning Keynote: Ryan Eustice, PhD, Senior Vice President of Automated Driving, Toyota Research Institute (TRI)

In addition to his role as VP of Automated Driving at TRI, Dr. Eustice serves on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s “Council on Future Mobility,” a state government regulatory policy advisory board, and he directs the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (PeRL) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Eustice received a Ph.D. from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Ocean Engineering in 2005 and was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. Best known for his work in advancing large-scale simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), including the visual mapping of the RMS Titanic, Dr. Eustice is a past recipient of the prestigious NSF CAREER and ONR Young Investigator awards.

Tuesday Noon Spotlight: Catherine McGhee, PE, Director of Research and Innovation, VA Transportation Research Council

Cathy McGhee has been with the Virginia Transportation Research Council since 1993, where she has led VDOT’s research program on connected and automated vehicles and has worked with VDOT staff and university partners to develop, test, and deploy equipment and applications within the Virginia Connected and Automated Corridors to advance VDOT’s mission of delivering safe and efficient mobility. As a part of this effort, she has participated in the Virginia Secretary of Transportation’s Automated Vehicle Work Group and the Unmanned Aerial Systems Work Group. VDOT has supported a strong innovative research program for more than 65 years. Its Virginia Transportation Research Council continues to build on this strong tradition by increasing emphasis on implementation of research findings.

Wednesday Morning Keynote: Bala Ganesh, PhD, Vice President, Advanced Technology Group, UPS

Bala Ganesh leads the Advanced Technology Group at UPS, overseeing efforts to apply cutting edge technologies to create UPS’ Smart Logistics Network. Ganesh previously directed marketing strategy for UPS’s retail and consumer goods segment. He joined UPS in 2012 as product manager supporting UPS My Choice and social media/mobile integration within the company’s Customer Technology Management group. Prior to joining UPS, Ganesh was responsible for strategy development and mergers and acquisitions with the healthcare procurement company, MedAssets. From 2006 to 2010, he led consulting project teams for McKinsey & Co. Ganesh has also worked as a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA. Early in his career, Bala was a pilot in the Indian Air Force.

Wednesday Noon Spotlight: Brad Whitby, Managing Director, Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Brad Whitby serves as the Managing Director of the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS), the only National Science Foundation-sponsored research center focused on unmanned aircraft. The C-UAS is an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center whose academic institutions include BYU, University of Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Michigan. Texas A&M and Penn State are expected to join the Center in the coming year. The C-UAS has over 25 industry and government members who select and support dozens of university-led UAS research projects each year.

REGISTER FOR THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Torc and Daimler

Torc Robotics Announces New Jobs and Expansion in Blacksburg

Blacksburg, VATorc Robotics announces building expansion ground breaking at their Blacksburg headquarters to accommodate their growing team. Torc Robotics, a leader in self-driving vehicle systems, broke ground mid-August on a new headquarters expansion that will almost double the existing space. The 15,800-square-foot addition will serve Torc’s growing team, which is expected to expand significantly with Daimler Trucks’ pending acquisition of a majority stake in the Blacksburg-based company. Torc and Daimler Trucks, a division in the Daimler Group, the inventor of the truck and world’s largest manufacturer of heavy and medium trucks, recently announced that they would be joining forces in a one-of-a-kind combination to commercialize highly automated trucks (SAE Level 4) on U.S. roads. This acquisition, combined with Torc’s expanding commercial capabilities and additional strategic partnerships, is contributing to Blacksburg’s growing national reputation for technology prowess. This livable, high-tech community is home to hundreds of innovative technology firms, specializing in information technology, unmanned systems, biosciences, advanced manufacturing and more. The region is free from brutal commutes and high housing costs found in many tech hubs. Once the acquisition is complete, Torc will be part of the newly established Autonomous Technology Group—part of Daimler Trucks’ global effort to put highly automated trucks onto the roads within a decade. Torc will remain a separate entity, retaining its name and expanding its team, existing customer base and facilities in Blacksburg.
“A larger team will position us to meet the growing demand of our customers in the self-driving space and engage the trucking market. We are a passionate, tightly-knit team, motivated to save lives and transform transportation. We are looking forward to adding new Torc’rs.” – Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc
Torc’s current job openings include positions in active sensing and information fusion, self-driving behaviors, path planning, systems engineering, vehicle safety and testing, senior-level management, planning and operations. The forthcoming two-story building, which will accommodate the surge of new employees, will include offices, community rooms, garage bays and parking. It is expected to be completed by March 2020.
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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.” Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.
VT Drone Cage

Virginia Tech’s Drone Park Celebrates One Year

Montgomery County, VA – The Drone Park at Virginia Tech continues to create new opportunities across campus after being open for over a year.

The park opened last Spring as a result of the collaboration between the College of Engineering, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS). The 85-foot tall cage offers new resources to both users inside and outside of the university. Within the first year, over 2,000 people have utilized the park. The typical users are students building and testing custom drones or professors providing hands-on flight experience for their class. Additionally, you can find the university’s top-ranked drone racing team practicing their skills and the drone design team testing out drone-delivery systems.

“Faculty and students across the campus are working together to develop new opportunities for advancing research around unmanned aerial vehicles. As a leader in the development and testing of this technology, Virginia Tech continues to create field-based facilities and build research capacity and expertise for improving these important systems.”
– Cyril Clarke, VT Executive Vice President and Provost

The park offers the tallest flight space in the country and provides a unique “freespan” flight space made possible by steel cables holding the net up. The net provides an extra layer of safety for new pilots and experimental aircraft. The net also means the airspace is exempt from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines which enables researchers to test prototype aircraft and run tests like nighttime flights and fully automated missions that would be otherwise prohibited in open airspace. Additionally, the park provides resources for pilots at any level. They have a collection of aircraft for individuals just starting out and tools to modify aircraft as more experience pilots are practicing their skills. University Libraries has even launched a drone-lending program where students can check out aircraft to fly in the park.

Learn more about booking time at the drone park and park protocol HERE.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Drone Deliveries

First U.S. Drone Delivery Location Announced

Christiansburg, VA – Christiansburg will be the home to the first U.S. trial location for drone delivery.

Wing, a Google subsidiary, was the first the drone delivery system to receive the Air Carrier Certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They have also partnered with the Commonwealth of Virginia to work on federal, state, and local policies surrounding unmanned systems. Additionally, they collaborated with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) to conduct hundreds of drone deliveries to staff and students at Virginia Tech in 2016 and in 2017 as part of NASA and the FAA’s unmanned traffic management system testing.

“I believe unmanned technology has the potential to fundamentally transform our economy and our lives — and southwest Virginia is poised to be at the forefront.” – Senator Mark Warner

They have selected a location in Christiansburg off Welcome Street, near Lowe’s, however have not released what type of deliveries or what neighborhoods will receive the deliveries. Wing has stated that they plan to be launching by the end of the year, with hopes for the first launch coming this Fall.

The goal is to partner with local retailers to conduct deliveries through the use of an app where customers can place their order and then receive it at their doorstep in a small cardboard box. The company has said that the drone can fly up to 6 miles from the original location which means they could theoretically reach well beyond Interstate 81 to the south of its nest and north of the Drillfield on Tech’s campus.

Read more about all the cool partnerships Wing has in Australia and Finland, their existing locations, HERE.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.