Drone research at UAH gets huge boost with government grant

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UAH received a $828,070 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration for drone research. (Jacob Blankenship / Hville Blast)

The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s drone research received a big boost this week when the school received a $828,070 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The 3-year grant is the second-largest in a group recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration. Here’s what it’s going to help fund:

Using drones to respond to disasters

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UAH’s drone research includes use of drones to respond to natural and human-made disasters. (UAH)

The grant from the FAA is for UAH’s efforts to better coordinate drone responses to natural and human-made disasters.

UAH will collaborate with Kansas State University, New Mexico State University, the University of Vermont and North Carolina State University.

The work will focus on procedures to integrate UAS operators from within federal agencies such as the Department of Interior and the Department of Homeland Security, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as local and state disaster preparedness and emergency response organizations, to ensure proper coordination during emergencies.

“Our progress to-date has defined new first responder UAS operating procedures for disaster support, and we have begun exercises in these new procedures and checklists in mock events across the country, in Alabama, Vermont, North Carolina and New Mexico.”

Jerry Hendrix, director of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program at UAH

Drone research extended

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UAH began this particular drone research a few years ago. (Jacob Blankenship / Hville Blast)

This drone research program is a continuation of work UAH began with the FAA in disaster response starting a few years ago, and researchers will perform additional rounds of exercises and events to drill down into extensive coordination details for the disaster response process, Hendrix says.

Investigations will also focus on delivery of data products for incident commanders, such as photos, videos and geographic data about natural and human-made disasters and emergencies like wildfires, hurricanes and train derailments. The entire process will be measured and fully documented.

The work may also be of value to the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology, of which UAH is a member. CIROH is an organization that seeks to better predict water-related hazards and manage the nation’s water resources. It is composed of 28 academic institutions, non-profit organizations and government and industry partners across the United States and Canada.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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