We were surprised by Jeff Bezos’s announcement on 60 Minutes this past Sunday night.  Not because we thought it was a hare-brained scheme, publicity stunt, or something the U.S. is not prepared for, but because the technology demonstrated in the video is currently available, and is already in use, in Idaho.  The “bird” that Amazon showed in their commercial is nearly identical to the copter that Idaho Power uses to count Salmon on the Snake River.  The future is already here!


Many commentators picked up on the timetable for delivery, after 2015, which they attributed to rollout and technology hurdles.  However, the primary reason for the 2015 estimate is the FAA Unmanned Aviation Systems Test Site designation, which will hopefully be announced early next year.  These test sites, located around the United States, will help the FAA learn how to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into the existing aviation system.

The Idaho Department of Commerce believes that Idaho has a strong position in the selection process.  Idaho has mountains (no pun intended) of experience in the UAS field.  Idaho National Lab, Idaho’s state universities and colleges, private companies, and world renowned farmers like Idaho’s Robert Blair are embracing UAS as a way to save lives and conduct more efficient research, while saving time and money.  With the state’s strong aerospace and high-tech industries, Idaho is well poised to take advantage of the growth of UAS – especially in the agriculture industry, fighting forest fires, wildlife management, and forestry management.

In addition, Idaho was one of the first states to enact privacy legislation for UAS, recognizing the need to balance technology and protection.  We also want to continue to grow our existing  key industries. This opportunity, which is not as far-fetched as it seems, will provide Idaho with the well paying jobs of the future.

Posted in Commerce