Leadership from both sides are collaborating to create a plan for facilitating a multi-modal advanced transportation corridor that will leverage progress with emerging transportation technologies, including automated ground vehicles and advanced air mobility (AAM).
“UNT is committed to finding solutions for transforming mobility and recently announced plans for an outdoor testing facility — UNT Advanced Air Mobility (UAAM) Test Center — which will significantly increase UNT’s research capacity for unmanned aerial vehicles and other emerging areas of research,” UNT President Neal Smatresk says. “Our Tier One research university is excited to partner with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to support our region’s economic development, enhance research innovation and expand workforce solutions.”
The North Texas region borders the CNO Reservation, which has been active in emerging aviation technology research since 2017, when the tribe was selected as the only tribal government lead participant for the FAA UAS (“Drone”) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) and later the FAA UAS BEYOND program.
The Choctaw Nation, a charter member of the FAA’s BVLOS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), is conducting research necessary to enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations safely and responsibly — including delivery of packages by small drones.
CNO also is developing an Emerging Aviation Technology Center on more than 44,500 acres of tribal-owned land within the Choctaw Nation Reservation and has already built an extensive aviation testing safety infrastructure to support research, development and testing of emerging aviation technologies.
“The future opportunities associated with advanced transportation technologies are exciting and are happening faster than we may realize,” says James L. Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives with the Choctaw Nation Oklahoma and an Oklahoma Transportation Commissioner. “Future economic growth and even quality of life and quality of health in our communities will be directly impacted by emerging transportation technologies. It is imperative that we begin to responsibly prepare for this future transportation environment.”
UNT and CNO have initiated planning for the ARMC and will work to formalize concepts and plans in the coming months. Public stakeholder involvement and feedback will be critical components of the plans and discussions.