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Drone deputy

The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and the Pensacola Police Department are collaborating on a high-tech police drone program. Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and IHMC Director Ken Ford announced the partnership in August.

The program will incorporate specialized drones in law enforcement operations such as search and rescue, disaster response, fugitive pursuit, threat situations and monitoring outdoor events.

“This is going to make Pensacola a safer community,” Hayward says. “And because we have the expertise of IHMC here in our community, we also are going to be in a leadership role in terms of the use of these specialized drones in fighting crime and in helping to make our community a safer place.”

While off-the-shelf drones are available to law-enforcement agencies, Ford says many are not appropriate for critical government services such as police operations. Moreover, most drones are unable to handle missions that operate in or around buildings.

IHMC, which is conducting research in robotics and artificial intelligence, also is developing technologies and software especially suited for customized operations of aerial drones.

Hayward says IHMC and the Pensacola Police Department also will work together to develop a training program for operating the drones.


National independent TV station owner E.W. Scripps bought Tallahassee area ABC affiliate WTXL. The $55-million transaction also includes an ABC affiliate station in Waco, Texas.


Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic has begun construction of a two-story facility near its primary clinic offices on Capital Medical Boulevard. The building will allow the clinic to consolidate its three Tallahassee locations under one roof, says clinic CEO Mark Didier. The clinic has 306 employees and 29 surgeons and physicians on staff.


Connecticut-based Advanced Composites & Metalforming Technologies plans to open a manufacturing facility in Lynn Haven, says ACMT President and CEO Michael G. Polo. ACMT is purchasing a 159,000-sq.-ft. facility in Lynn Haven’s Industrial Park. The project represents an investment of about $20 million and will bring 105 new advanced manufacturing jobs in the aerospace industry, says Becca Hardin, president of BayEDA, Bay County’s lead economic development agency. Polo says the average wage for the new jobs will be $43,700. ACMT will be manufacturing aerospace components and also completing repair and overhaul work on gas turbine components and accessories.


  • Eight Northwest Florida businesses were named to Inc. magazine’s 5000 fastest-growing companies in America. They were Beck Partners and Digital Boardwalk of Pensacola; Waterhouse Press and RealJoy Vacations in Destin; and GloFX, Inspired Technologies, Diverse Computer and marketing company Moore.


  • An underwater sculpture garden off South Walton County has been named among the world’s greatest places by Time magazine. The Underwater Museum of Art is a collection of sculptures submerged in the Gulf of Mexico off Grayton Beach State Park. The sculpture garden was cited for “breaking new ground, leading industry trends and offering visitors an extraordinary experience,” according to Time’s list, which covers special sights and places on six continents and 48 countries.
  • The 30-room Gibson Inn, a landmark hotel in Apalachicola, has been purchased by Steven Etchen, a local developer and property manager, for $3 million. The boutique hotel had been on the market since 2014.
  • The Grand Marlin on Pensacola Beach was recognized by OpenTable as one of the 100 most scenic restaurants in America. OpenTable provides online restaurant reservations and reviews.
  • Paula Deen, celebrity chef and cooking show host, will open a Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen restaurant in Destin Commons shopping center in the first quarter of 2019.


  • Site preparation, demolition and excavation work has begun on the 19-story Washington Square development in Tallahassee. The $90-million Fairmont Development project, which includes a Loews hotel, office space, a lounge, three restaurants and a 425-space garage, will occupy an entire city block behind the Leon County Courthouse.
  • Prospect Development Group, the developers behind a $21-million apartment complex proposed for a site on U.S. 19 in Perry, say construction will get under way before the end of 2018.
  • The Santa Rosa County board of commissioners approved revised plans for a 49-lot Creets Landing subdivision in Navarre despite concerns by some local residents over flooding and the project’s impact on wetlands.


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