The Virginia Institute for Space Flight & Autonomy (VISA) and the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) have selected ANRA Technologies and Alliance Solutions Group for their innovative proposal to the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for Port Security and Emergency Response Unmanned Systems (UxS) Demonstration Project.

Together with Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), VISA began its search for UxS solutions after launching a program to focus on the continued development and expansion of unmanned UxS technologies during the Unmanned Systems UxS Industry Engagement Summit 2021. At the Summit, leaders in public safety presented various challenges identified during an intensive maritime safety workshop to industry representatives to initiate creative solutions and problem-solving options that utilized autonomous technologies for faster, safer, and more cost-effective emergency response. This led participants, including the US Coast Guard, the Virginia Port Authority, the Center for Naval Analysis, and local public safety agencies, to evaluate and determine the potential impact and effectiveness of new autonomous technologies, like drones, at maritime ports.

"The submissions we received certainly highlighted the innovation and capacity of Virginia companies to lead UxS industry solutions for Port Security and Emergency Response," said Tracy Tynan, Director of the Virginia Unmanned Systems Center (VUSC) at VIPC. "These AO projects are the next step in providing opportunities to demonstrate system applications of UxS platforms, sensors, and data/information management that could solve challenging problems the public safety and emergency response communities face daily."

As the nexus for Virginia's activity in UxS (Land, Air, Sea, and Space), VUSC serves as a unified voice and central source for information and assistance related to the unmanned systems landscape in Virginia.

With initial funding of more than $100,000, ANRA Technologies, a provider of end-to-end drone operations and traffic management solutions for unmanned system operators and airspace managers, will be developing SAFEport, a complete solution and single software platform to work as a UxS Port Mission Manager with an integrated and distributed common operating picture (COP). On the other hand, Alliance Solutions Group was selected for a comprehensive proposal to demonstrate the ArgusElite Hazmat UAS solution and decision-ready implementation plan.

"The companies selected for this project have offered UxS technology and applications that will heighten security and protection at the Port of Virginia, which is a leading gateway for global trade on the East Coast, and the surrounding area in Hampton Roads," said David Bowles, Executive Director of VISA. "These UxS systems will support first responders with mission-critical solutions for reacting more quickly and effectively to life-threatening situations that are often already difficult due to the region's challenging coastal terrain and severe weather."

Designed to connect all UxS for Port Security and Emergency Response missions, ANRA's SAFEport will enable manual or autonomous operations through a mobile device. It will transmit live video (RGB, IR) or serial data throughout the network and integrate locations for every UxS and crewed aircraft to develop a 4D (time/space) COP distributed to authorized users. Based on ANRA's UAS Traffic Management, SAFEport will provide the foundation for broader port-wide applications, adapting to new technology and evolving regulations to ensure longevity, viability, and scalability. ANRA will also work with TRIAD Drones, which will provide all operators and hardware, and non-profit AIRT, who will support advocacy and workshop activities.

VIPC thinks there's a possibility that additional project funding will become available and will consider more project proposals in the future.