Drone company will bring 400 jobs to Reno

Aug 27, 2014

The Falcon drone designed by Ashima Devices. The company makes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help first responders gain situational awareness when they arrive on scene in an emergency situation, like a wildfire.
Credit Ashima Devices

A drone manufacturing company is moving its headquarters to Reno, bringing about 400 new jobs to the area over the next two years. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

Ashima Devices is relocating from Pasadena and setting up shop at the Reno-Stead Airport where the company will be researching, testing, and building unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs. The company makes drones to help law enforcement, fire, and emergency crews gain situational awareness.

"When first responders arrive on the scene," says Ashima Vice President Larry Lambert, "they need to get a view of what's going on around them to help them make good decisions."

Lambert says their goal, ultimately, is to save lives in any emergency situation, whether it be an active shooter or a raging wildfire. For fires, these drones can peer over trees and peak around ridges to quickly analyze the lay of the land.

"They're hand-launched," Labert explains, "so there are no little legs on the bottom, and they're hand-recovered, so you launch it like a frisbee and when you want it to come back, you say, 'Come back,' and it comes back to wherever you are."

Ashima will start delivering its products this fall and is moving into a transitional facility just north of Reno until it can build a manufacturing plant. Right now, the company employs just 25 people, but it'll expand quickly by hiring scientists, engineers, and general office workers.

Lambert says his team is also partnering with the University of Nevada, Reno to sponsor graduate students and Truckee Meadows Community College to develop coursework that's up-to-date, so students are prepared for industry expectations.

"I mean, how many people have two or three-year-old cell phones?" Lambert asks. "Technology moves so fast in tech industries that if you're not up-to-speed on curriculum, you're going to get lost."

Last year, Nevada was among six states selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to serve as test sites for drones. Test sites have also been approved in Alaska, New York, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia.