The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to choose six locations to host large-scale drone test flights by the end of the year, and nearly half of the nation's states have some hope of being chosen. Applications have come in from 24 states for the chance at hosting one of the sites — but some states aren't leaving their chances entirely up to luck: The Washington Post reports that North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Utah, and Wyoming all took to a drone conference in Washington, DC last week to highlight what they'd be able to bring to the world of drone development.
Ohio handed out Ohio-shaped cookies
Each of the states was represented by booths at the Unmanned Systems conference, which is held by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. According to the Post, Representative Mike Turner from Ohio toured the show floor while his state's booth handed out Ohio-shaped cookies. Utah reportedly hoped to attract visitors to its booth with a large inflatable yeti holding a drone, while North Dakota took a more traditional route, having its governor, Drew Wrigley, make an appearance and a speech. Though the showmanship was only presented to the conference floor, the Post reports that it's all part of an effort to sway the FAA in each state's favor.
Drone test sites are just the beginning for the burgeoning industry, but being home to one of them could be a boon for rural states. The Post reports that drone test sites could eventually bring a new group of businesses to states that aren't generally known for having leading technology sectors. But economic aspirations and inflatable yetis may not help the states get chosen — as the industry begins to grow, what the FAA is really looking for is locations that can safely and efficiently facilitate the testing and development of new drones.