Company leaders believe this is the first privately owned drone flight enclosure in the Dayton area.
“As far as we know, it’s the only one in this area,” said Robert Hawley, Matrix Research president. “We’re aware that there’s one at Wright-Patt (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) that’s near AFIT (the Air Force Institute of Technology, on Wright-Patterson). I haven’t seen any others in this area.”
Hawley said the company often tests and researches drone sensor arrays. Matrix doesn’t make drones, but it does produce sensor arrays designed to be carried by drones — video equipment, radio frequency sensing equipment and more.
“It could be anything,” said William Kroger, Matrix vice president. “We do a little bit of everything.”
The need for the enclosure is project-driven. The enclosure will save a trip to the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport or parts of Southeastern Ohio, where these kinds of drone flights are allowed.
And it came together quickly. Gorilla Netting, of Palm Harbor, Fla., started raising the enclosure shortly before Thanksgiving. In seven days, the project was finished.
The enclosure’s netting material will stop drones from straying too close to U.S. 35 or away from company property. “It might actually crash the drone,” Hawley said of the netting.
The total investment involved was about $350,000. But company leaders believe the investment will lead to growth — research that could support another 10 to 20 engineers and scientists over the next five years.
With about $30 million in annual revenue, Matrix has about 90 employees, including just over 80 in the Dayton area.
The company also intends to strengthen its place in the field of autonomous vehicles. And Matrix engineers expect to work with area students.
“We are hoping to work with Sinclair (Community College), Wright State University, the University of Dayton, and the Greene County Career Center to help develop the region’s future workforce,” Kroger said.
At least one area business, a Miami Valley Research Park tenant, has inquired about using the enclosure, but the company declined to say who that was.
Matrix was founded in 2007. Last year, a Rochester, N.Y. limited liability company bought the Matrix Research property for $10 million from Mehland Developers, an arm of Miamisburg’s Construction Managers of Ohio.
Matrix was not involved in the sale, Hawley said last year.
“Matrix has no plans to move from this location,” he said then. “We are happy with the new owners and plan to be in this building for years to come.”