The Monterey Bay Drone, Automation & Robotics Technology (DART) initiative is a regional economic development strategy to focus on these current and future growth sectors for new venture formation, jobs growth and regional vitality. The DART initiative grew out of a multi-sector partnership established in the fall of 2017 to respond to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) call for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) responses. Led by the Fort Ord Reuse Authority in collaboration with multiple public and private sector partners including the City of Marina, the University of California, California State University, Airspace Integration, Joby Aviation and many others. While unsuccessful in gaining the UASIPP designation, the partnerships established during the proposal development phase, and demonstrated market demand for drone testing and innovation spaces, led to a concept revision and expansion, and the current initiative.
The DART vision is establish & operate world-class Drone, Automation, Robotics Technology testing & development cluster in Monterey Bay region. It is envisioned that multiple partners and organizational structures will be necessary that leverage the strengths of each sector (Industry, Government and Academia) to realize broad economic gains and regional vitality.
An initial step towards this vision has been the formation of the Monterey Bay DART non-profit organization with the mission to:
- Connect. Convene stakeholders stakeholders to coordinate action, advance projects, and establish productive cross-sector partnerships;
- Fund. Identify, pursue and secure public and private funding to support research & development, infrastructure improvement and venture creation/growth;
- Educate. Host industry and educational forums. Contribute to regional workforce development efforts. Promote curriculum development and education; and
- Advocate. Safe, appropriate market, facilities and airspace access.
Key building blocks for achieving the DART vision include:
- Connecting existing and growing/attracting new community members;
- Continual focus on safety across all operations;
- Establishment of locations and facilities for R&D, and new venture growth;
- Access to capital with domain knowledge and enthusiasm;
- Identification of and access to growth markets;
- Strengthening of regional workforce to meet industry demands;
- Cultivation of an innovation ecosystem, leveraging institutions of higher education and industry R&D;
- Awareness and innovation in public policy and law to support safe and appropriate technology integration.
The Monterey Bay is ideally positioned as a place for the cultivation and growth of the DART industries. Located a short drive from the global tech and innovation hub of Silicon Valley, directly adjacent to the wide open Pacific Ocean, and at the mouth of the Salad Bowl of the World in Salinas Valley, with a skilled and educated workforce, the Monterey Bay offers many unparalleled opportunities for these cleantech industries.
To date, at least 3 locations regionally, and a ptoential connection with an expanding national innovation network are the focus on the DART effort. Potential local and regional innovation sites include:
- Marina Airport and the UCMBEST properties
- Monterey Bay Academy
- Fort Hunter Liggett
Along with these local/regoinal sites, initial conversations are underway with a growing national drove innovation developer headquartered at GrandskyND. These sites together represent the focus of the initial DART initiative, with the possibility for expansion as the process develops.
Working towards the completion of the UASIPP response brought together a robust multi-sector community of interest including:
- University of California
- University of California, Santa Cruz
- University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
- California State University Monterey Bay
- Fort Ord Reuse Authority
- City of Marina
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
- Airspace Integration
- Joby Aviation
- Elroy Air
- Whitefox Defense
- Camp Six
This group of public and private interests represent the broad cross-sector demand for UAS testing and development opportunities, and reflect continues market demand.
Along with those listed above, the following public and private entities provided productive support for the UASIPP effort, and remain supportive of the current vision:
- Jimmy Panetta, US Congressman
- University of California, Office of the President
- Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology
- UC Merced UAS Safety
- Economic Development Administration
The Monterey Bay DART initiative is working to expand this list of supportive and interested stakeholders. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our growing mailing list.