Automation

Airport Authority Vies for Spot on Maryland’s Autonomous Tech Center Group

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Sept. 20 that a work group will pursue recommendations in the study regarding the development of a Western Maryland Autonomous Technology Center.

by Elaine Blaisdell, Cumberland Times News / October 1, 2018
David Kidd

(TNS) — WILEY FORD, W.Va. — The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans to draft a letter expressing interest in a seat on the governor's new work group that will study a possible autonomous technology center.

In July, the authority approved funding half of a feasibility study for the center, which it hoped would be located at a proposed business park at the Greater Cumberland Airport. The Appalachian Regional Commission funded the remainder of the study.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Sept. 20 that a work group will pursue recommendations in the study regarding the development of a Western Maryland Autonomous Technology Center.

"I feel like we sort of got bypassed by the governor," said Kevin Clark, authority member and executive director of the Mineral County Development Authority. "We were an instrumental part of this. The airport should still have a seat on that work group."

The center will likely be located in Frostburg, Md., and will focus on autonomous vehicles, according to Dave Weimer, authority chairman.

"We paid for the feasibility study and we were looking for drones, something that would be conducive to the airport," said Weimer. "I think that the study still identifies that the airport would be a good location to facilitate drone activity. I think we can still solicit business to incorporate that type of technology here."

The work group will partner with Frostburg State University and local community colleges to create workforce training programs and collaborate with local private sector employers.

As part of the feasibility study, the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland evaluated the technical, economic and regulatory feasibility of a potential training center in Western Maryland. The study included identifying industry interest, analyzing market potential, selecting technology areas and determining facility needs.

The final report for the feasibility study is expected to be completed soon.

Creade Brodie Jr., authority member and Allegany County commissioner, also suggested that FSU be sent a letter reminding them that it has an unfilled ex officio seat on the airport authority board.

The seat can be filled by a combination of representatives from Potomac State College of West Virginia University, Allegany College of Maryland as well as FSU, said Ryan Shaffer, airport manager.

"I do still believe the airport is going to be a part of this moving forward," said Brodie. "The main thing is we want recognition to this area."

©2018 the Cumberland Times News (Cumberland, Md.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.