June 4, 2015

Local Startup on Cutting Edge of Drone Technology

WSET by Matt Ray


WSET.com - ABC13


Danville, VA - There has been a lot in the news lately about drones: small remote-controlled helicopters that can go nearly anywhere.

They have many potential uses both good and bad.  And one startup company on the Southside believes it's the wave of the future.  KSI Data Sciences is a company that provides software for drones.

Last year the company moved its development team to Danville.  Co-Founder Jason Barton says it was a good move to be close to Liberty University and NC State where a lot of drone research is taking place.

"It's not just about location.  Economics were good.  The cost of living here is great.  There's a lot of energy in Danville right now."

He says he gets quite a few questions from the locals who see the aircrafts buzzing overhead.

"People hear what goes on overseas with drones and they automatically assume that the drones we are flying around here in Danville to do R&D with are that.  And they're not," said Barton.

KSI has a focus on public safety.  Barton says the technology can be used for everything from search and rescue operations to cell phone tower maintenance.  And although much of the industry is still the wild west legally, there are some rules, like never letting the aircraft get out of sight.

"There are safety considerations and the FAA is doing a good job of trying to balance the safety considerations with the pent up demand for the technology," said Barton.

Area leaders hope KSI is a sign local industry is taking off.

"Danville could be the next Silicon Valley," said Ernecia Coles, Exec. Director of the River District Association.  "I think it speaks volumes to what's in the future for Danville,"

The company got its start from an investment from local entrepreneurial development group The Launch Place.  KSI was the group's first investment.  Tomorrow.. they will announce their fifth, for a total investment of $1.28 million in local businesses.