NC company predicts drones will flourish - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

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NC company predicts drones will flourish

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GOLDSBORO, N.C. -

Could North Carolina become the home of the drones?

While some states want to restrict unmanned aerial vehicles over their skies, our state wants to help develop them.

The Federal Aviation Administration is going to allow only six test sites in the United States. North Carolina wants a site in Hyde County. More than 30 states are interested in being a test site for what is expected to be a multi-billion dollar industry. The FAA expects 10,000 civilian drones in the air in five years.

But fear over their capability is rising. On Monday, for example, a pilot said he spotted a drone at JFK Airport. The pilot told the control tower, "Just for your information, we just saw a little drone below us."

"I'm sorry, what did you say?" responded the tower.

"We saw a drone, a drone aircraft," the pilot said.

Drones – or unmanned aerial vehicles - could pose a risk to larger planes if they were to collide or get sucked into an engine.

But there's a local expert who says drones, when used properly, can solve countless real world problems.

Keven Gambold is director of operations at Unmanned Experts, a North Carolina company helping to match government and civilian businesses.

For example, one drone is a hummingbird controlled by a hand-held remote.

"They are ideal for going into buildings," Gambold said. He said the small drone is perfect for going places too dangerous for a human. For example, the drone could survey a burning building or damaged nuclear reactor or help police in a hostage situation.

They are even being used in herd management, such as counting rhinos in Africa.

While helicopters have a price tag in the millions, Gambol said a small drone will cost a fraction of that – about $150,000.

So what does a future with drones look like?

"I'm out watering the grass and  hear a humming noise," Gambol said. "And I look and a drone is flying down my street examining all the street lights, to see which ones are broken."

And, Gambol said, "It will be no big deal."

Melanie Sanders

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