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NV FAA UAS Test Site helps Microsoft Achieve Milestone

NV FAA UAS Test Site helps Microsoft Achieve Milestone

LAS VEGAS, N.V. (June 23, 2016) – The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) teams up with Microsoft Corporation’s research team to achieve flight in the FAA National Airspace.  Microsoft teamed up with NIAS, a FAA-designated Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) Test Site, to achieve flight with their newest glider UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) last month.  This was a milestone for the Nevada UAS Test Site and shows that, whether startup company or established industry leader like Microsoft, NIAS is helping to advance the global UAS Industry one customer and one flight at a time.

Flown at an organic farm 30 minutes from the large Microsoft R&D campus in Redmond, Washington, the Microsoft team flew a pair of UAS platforms to include their experimental glider UAS that reached an altitude of approximately 300 feet flying a total of seven Nevada Test Site Certification of Authorization (COA) flights on May 12th and 13th, 2016.

The objective of the Microsoft flight was to meet the rigorous testing and training requirements of the Nevada FAA-designated Test Site and to build crew experience in flying the glider and their other quad-copter models in the NAS.  The other objective was to certify the Microsoft UAS team in flight planning, risk assessment, communications, decision-making, teamwork, and crew coordination.  The Microsoft team was certified to conduct flight operations under the Nevada UAS Test Site COA.

“At Microsoft Research we are dedicated to advancing the state-of-art in the realm of autonomous aerial informatics and robotics.  The partnership with NIAS will further enable us to test and deploy cutting edge ideas from machine intelligence, robotics and human centered computation to build technology that can positively influence our society.  We are looking forward to working with NIAS and learn from their deep experience in this area,” said Microsoft senior researcher Ashish Kapoor.

“The Microsoft Team is building an advanced UAS capable of doing something really amazing in the UAS Industry.  From flight planning, risk assessment and mitigation, to leadership displayed at the Microsoft testing site, this team really displayed their high technology knowledge set, team capability, and what they can do for the UAS Industry.  This was the first time we have flown with a glider UAS and this system offers another advancement and extension of knowledge across the UAS industry,” said Dr. Chris Walach, Director of Operations for the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems and the FAA-designated UAS Test Site.

“Nevada’s drive to lead in innovative industries such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is resulting in top companies looking to test and develop new applications and emerging technologies here.  This is certainly the case with Microsoft and we appreciate the continued trust they place in Nevada,” said Steve Hill, Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  “Through Nevada’s FAA UAS Test Site, Microsoft is not only able to test its newest glider, but also cements its place in Nevada’s test site record books as being the first glider flown at the FAA UAS Test Site.”


About Microsoft:  Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About GOED: Created during the 2011 session of the Nevada Legislature, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is the result of a collaborative effort between the Nevada Legislature and Governor Brian Sandoval to restructure economic development in the state. GOED’s role is to promote a robust, diversified and prosperous economy in Nevada, to stimulate business expansion and retention, encourage entrepreneurial enterprise, attract new businesses and facilitate community development. More information on the Governor’s Office of Economic Development can be viewed at

About the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS): On behalf of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, NIAS helps to grow the Autonomous Systems Industry through business teaming, partnerships, research and development, and education awareness in order to bring in business and jobs to the State of Nevada and to facilitate full and safe UAS integration into the National Airspace System. Learn more at or