RIFLE, Colo. (CBS4) – First responders across Colorado are using drones for investigations and training. Now, they have a brand new indoor test facility on the Western Slope to hone their drone skills.
“We have a pretty interesting group of drone people on the Western Slope. I think it’s going to bring more people from all over the country to be able to test new technologies whether it’s for the fire department or law enforcement,” said Jeff Goodrich.
He owns a small drone company in Grand Junction. He’s designing large drones that could one day help firefighters extinguish forest fires before they spread.
“One of the really cool things that we’re looking at doing is partnering with a Center of Excellence to take what we’re working on at Highlift Drone application and see how it applies to aerial firefighting,” Goodrich said.
Tuesday marked the grand opening of the Center of Excellence Technodrome.
The Center of Excellence Technodrome is an expansive indoor facility that allows staff to test various types of technology for public safety. It will also provide a testing site for pilots to gain experience.
Since the area is indoors, the FAA allows them to fly experimental drones not permitted to fly in the airspace.
“We really have not come across another state program that’s doing what we’re doing here,” Center of Excellence Director Ben Miller told CBS4.
Miller says other states are already asking if they can send their drone pilots here for the course.
“We are so excited to be a part of this rare opportunity in cooperation with Garfield County; the facility will be used to train the next generation of public safety drone pilots,” said Miller. “This type of advanced training space will also allow us to safely assess new and emerging UAS technology that has the potential to positively impact the public safety community as a whole.”