The Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and the city of Broken Arrow hosted the Unmanned Aerial Systems Tech Forum attended by about 225 researchers, entrepreneurs and educators in the industry.
“It’s exciting to see all the investment that we’re getting with UAS (unmanned aerial systems) technology,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who delivered a 15-minute opening address. “It used to be when you talked about a drone, you might associate it with military use or maybe some hobbyist who might have a drone and fly it around.
“But nowadays, it’s becoming more and more driven by different needs within our national, worldwide economy. You can use it for so many different things.”
Both Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc., a California-based jet-powered drone manufacturer, and Nevada-based Valkyrie Systems Aerospace announced this year that they are locating facilities in Oklahoma, with the two adding a total of more than 350 jobs to the state.
About 50 UAS companies are located in Oklahoma, Fallin said. According to a study by McKinsey & Co., a global management consulting firm, the value of drone activity grew from $40 million in 2012 to about $1 billion in 2017.
By 2026, it is estimated that commercial drones — both corporate and consumer applications — will have an annual impact of $31 billion to $46 billion on the country’s GNP.