During the Aerospace & Defense Day at Utah’s Capitol this week, onlookers watched in fascination as the DroneHunter F700 flew up in the air and tracked an “enemy” drone, before striking it and then capturing it with a net in less than three minutes.

Jane Rowberry, marketing manager for Fortem Technologies, which created the DroneHunter F700, told Deseret News that the drones use advanced radar tracking to pinpoint other drones and foreign threats that they can then take down.

Fortem Technologies was one of over 40 companies at the statehouse Thursday showcasing a wide array of Utah’s technological innovations during the 47G Utah sponsored event.

“Utah’s aerospace, defense and cyber businesses, as well as our academic institutions, are among the best in the world. We meet today on Capitol Hill not only to showcase next-generation technologies and research, but also to facilitate meaningful dialogue between our industry leaders and state legislators,” Aaron Starks, CEO and President of 47G said, per Utah Business.

“Working with legislators allows our industry to navigate regulatory frameworks, funding mechanisms and policies that help Utah remain globally competitive and advance our national security,” he added.

The rebranding of Utah’s Aerospace Association

Last year, Utah rebranded its Aerospace and Defense Association under the new name 47G. The name pays tribute to the industry’s trailblazers in Utah and “represents the rich legacy of Utah’s pioneers and the unquenchable ambition that propels us into the future,” Starks said at the rebranding event.

In October, former Utah Rep. Chris Stewart was appointed chairman of the board of directors for 47G. “Artificial intelligence, radars, deterrence systems, cyber security, machine learning, drones and more are critical technology areas for the future of our country that can be developed here in Utah,” Stewart said at the time, per Tech Buzz News.

As of 2022, the 2.2 million workers were employed in the aerospace and defense sector nationwide with an average salary that is 55% higher than the national average.

In Utah, “From well-known, large companies, down to small startups, there are more than 1,000 companies and half a dozen military installations across the state. Together, they make up almost 20% of the state’s economic activity,” Deseret News previously reported.

Here are some of the businesses that were featured at the event.

Is quantum security the future of cyber security?

Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Secured Quantum Services Zain Premji told Deseret News that quantum security is the solution to preventing data breaches.

In 2022, there were an estimated 5.5 billion malware attacks worldwide, according to Statista. These cyber-attacks are common because the traditional internet uses binary language, meaning just zeros and ones, Premji explained, making it easy for hackers to be able to breach.

“What quantum does ... it creates a photon network,” Premji said. “And it’s a word called entanglement, where bits of information are available at different points in time at the same time. So, nobody can ever predict the way the data is.”

Premji added that the moment quantum security detects any type of disruption that a photon has been trying to reach, “It shuts it down immediately, and you can pinpoint where the attack was. So, that, I would say, is probably the biggest difference between a traditional network and what a quantum network does. And that’s what we are building upon to build our platform.”

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George Davidson, Boeing senior material management operations leader, puts Boeing model planes away at the end of Utah Aerospace and Defense Day on Capitol Hill at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Taxi cab? No. Taxi plane

As a leading manufacturer of carbon fiber and honeycomb for the commercial aerospace market, Hexcel Corporation is using its resources in a new industry — air taxis. Robert Yancey, Hexcel Corporation's Business Development Director, told Deseret News that the urban air mobility market will use Hexcel’s products to build urban air taxis.

“Basically, these are vertical takeoff and landing helicopters that can have about four passengers,” Yancey said. “They’re planning to try to compete with ground taxis in very congested areas, like getting from JFK Airport to downtown Manhattan. You can do it in 10 minutes versus an hour.”

When asked if these battery-operated helicopters are safer than the average helicopter, Yancey said test regimes are currently underway to ensure their safety. These tests are to ensure the aircraft can perform at a certain altitude and speeds and to know what the procedures are in case there is an incident and the pilot has to land somewhere.

Regarding the timeline for air taxis to be made available to the public, Yancey said he hopes to see them used to take Utahns to and from the 2034 Olympics, which are set to be hosted in Park City.

“I think there’s a decent possibility they could get certified in the next two to three years,” he said.

Sam and Ryan and the off-road wheelchair

To make nature accessible to all, Extreme Motus, a company based in Pleasant Grove, UT, has created a wheelchair that can take on any terrain. The Emma X3 weighs in at just 49 pounds, can float in water, and cruise through mud, snow and gravel.

Ryan Grassley told Deseret News that he and his close friend Sam have taken the X3 off-road wheelchair to some of Utah’s most popular landmarks, including The Narrows.

Extreme Motus’ technology is making it possible for wheelchair users to experience more than just the sidewalks and parks. The X3 off-road wheelchair, available in three sizes, costs $4049.00.

The Rosie Project

According to Military State Policy Source, there are an estimated 2,378 active-duty spouses in the state of Utah. As a way to empower and support military spouses, The Rosie Project is a nonprofit that works as a pathway for husbands and wives of the military to have careers in “mission critical positions within the Department of Defense alongside their spouse’s military career.”

Maurice De Vera, Magic Leap director of account management, helps Dennis Leavitt, United We Pledge president, test out the Magic Leap 2 during Utah Aerospace and Defense Day on Capitol Hill at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Secured Quantum Services co-founder Zain Premji’s name was misspelled.