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UAS Conference - Cape May County
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Cape May County, New Jersey

Cape May County and Beyond:

A UAS Program for the Region

        Comprising a peninsula at the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May County enjoys airspace that’s among the sweetest in the Northeast Corridor.

        Six years ago, we set out to explore how this and other assets might be used to attract UAS business and innovation.  Starting with fewer than a dozen innovators, our UAS activities have grown into an extensive UAS Program enjoying participation by many additional counties and hundreds of UAS innovators from throughout New Jersey and adjoining States.

        We have full water access to the East (the Atlantic Ocean) and the West (Delaware Bay), and we’re boundered to the North by drone-friendly counties.  Together, we offer every imaginable type of airspace and geospatial feature – from rural to urban environments, varied transportation infrastructure, agricultural space and wetlands and forests, species habitats, oysters, from small municipal airports to an International Airport – you name it !

        We are privileged to have the FAA Tech Center nearby in Egg Harbor Township, and virtually all of the State’s fine academic and research institutions have a presence in our Program.  And not coincidentally, throughout these critical building years, our legislative representative in the Southern New Jersey counties was Rep. Frank LoBiondo, the preeminent congressional proponent of UAS technology and growth.  He is a great inspiration!

        As one of only two counties in the United States designated a “Coast Guard Community,” we also are deeply honored to have a strong ongoing partnership with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay – including in the use of UAS in maritime missions.

        State organizations such as the State Police and NJ-DOT also regularly participate in our Forums and other activities.

        And we never forget our innovators … the individuals and small- to mid-sized companies who are conducting cutting-edge R&D as they begin to bring their goods and services to market in the exciting early UAS market.   They are visiting and settling in New Jersey because they find a hearty welcome for UAS business.

        Representative activities in the Drone Program include:

        Innovation Forums: Every six weeks, UAS innovators from New Jersey and surrounding states meet for a half day to talk about their latest issues and efforts in UAS technology. At each Forum, we present an interesting speaker or two, as well as a hearty lunch, and innovative ideas fly.

        Annual Conference:  Now headed for its fourth year, the Annual Cape May UAS Conference attracts participants and visitors from across the country.  The 2017 Conference included the following:

        Keynotes by Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Maj. General (ret.) Marke (“Hoot”) Gibson
        Expert Panels on:
               • Counter-UAS
               • Future of Human-Autonomy Teaming
               • “Value and Funding – How Do Analysts and Investors View UAS?”
               • Current Legislative and Regulatory Scene
               • Best Practices in an Evolving Commercial Drone World
        “Rapid-Fire Hot Topix” presentations on (1) early-stage UAS companies that are pushing the boundaries of UAS technologies;  (2) Hurricane relief efforts with drones in Texas and Florida;  (3) Progress on the Naviator, the Rutgers-developed combination drone system that can transition from flying to swimming underwater;  (4) NJ-DOT’s peer exchange with multiple State DOTs re use and regulation of UAS;  and (5) FAA Tech Center research (by Eric Neiderman, Division Manager) on Fire Safety Research on Lithium Ion Batteries.

        In 2018, the 4th Annual Conference again featured a wide range of cutting-edge speakers and topics covering evolving aspects of UAS markets. Panels addressed:
               • Legislative and regulatory advances
               • Coast Guard Uses of UAS
               • FAA research and projects undertaken both at Headquarters and the nearby FAA William Hughes Technical Center
               • UAS advances in the Energy+Utilities sector
               • Workforce issues
               • Counter-UAS
               • Airspace infrastructure and management
               • UAS use in wildlife tracking and the entertainment industry.

The 5th Annual UAS Conference, to be held Sunday evening, September 22nd, through Tuesday afternoon, September 24th, will be unique.  We are focusing discussion on Air Mobility, and the event will be venued both at the Wildwoods Convention Center (on 9/23) and at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center (on 9/24).

        Tech Incubator:  We recently built and launched our first tech incubator at Cape May County Airport (KWWD), to host seven early-stage UAS companies.

        Public Use COA: After an arduous approval process, the County received authorization from the FAA to conduct public use flights under its own COA, covering 800 square miles of airspace up to an altitude of 7,000 feet.  We are working with FAA officials on ensuring that it is extendable to sites throughout the State and region, and perhaps the country, to assist in First Response.

        Feature Events: We’re thrilled to serve as site for special events like a workshop for United Nations representatives developing new guidelines for use of drones in international disasters; “Drone Camp” for STEM middle-schoolers; and “OEM Days” at which local, state and federal First Responders are invited to talk with innovators and developers about their needs and potential uses of UAS in Emergency Management. 

        Teaming Efforts: We do everything possible to bring innovators together with potential users of their products and services, whether this means facilitating individual introductions or conducting large-scale innovator/end user conferences.

        Emerging Specialties:  Being around a while has given us the opportunity to develop relationships with core groups of UAS-related parties specializing in particular areas.

For example, we engage in intensive public-private teaming to explore use of UAS technology by First Responders tools. The efforts have gained considerable focus, and emergency management professionals are looking to the County as a testing ground for new developments in this worthy cause.

We also work closely with the New Jersey State Police, NJ-DOT, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, local OEM officials, and others, to address how UAS can assist in post-disaster response and incident management.

And our long-time relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard (whose basic training for all recruits is performed here in Southern New Jersey), has led us to join in a coalition of parties developing expertise in maritime missions like SAR over water, vessel containment monitoring, port access support, migratory bird tracking, marine habitat monitoring, weather monitoring, coastal mapping, extension of cellular connectivity over water, and, most recently, preliminary R&D on shore-to-vessel and vessel-to-vessel delivery.

Finally, we are developing expertise through special teams focusing on use of UAS in the Energy and Utilities industries.  Partnering with neighboring counties, we are testing uses that can be scaled across the country for both routine infrastructure inspection and emergency response.


Please contact us to discuss your interest in the UAS Program.  We’ll be pleased to place you on the UAS mailing list, and to welcome you to any of our activities.

  • Will Morey, Freeholder 609-465-1065
  • Joe Molineaux Economic Development, 609-465-1085
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