Gov. Terry McAuliffe Demos Unmanned Systems in Three Domains


Today, during a technology demonstration at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MARUAS) Airfield at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe operated unmanned systems in three domains – air, land, and sea.

According to a release from the governor’s office, the technology demonstration showed how scientists are using unmanned systems to study the impacts of major storms and sea-level rise on barrier-island dynamics as a means to shape policies for coastal resilience.

Virginia is leading the way to leverage new technologies to better protect key natural and economic assets like our coastline,” states McAuliffe. “By combining unmanned systems across all three domains, we are collecting data that will provide greater insight into our coastline, demonstrating the transformative nature of these technologies and highlighting the capabilities of this uniquely situated facility at Wallops. By leaning forward on merging these emerging technologies, we can bring enormous benefits to our economy and our environment.”

Two Virginia universities, William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Randolph-Macon College of Ashland, teamed up with the University of Delaware to conduct the preliminary coastal-resilience study. The work is serving as a pilot study for a larger, more comprehensive investigation of the coastal zone of Assateague, Chincoteague and Wallops islands – formerly known as the Integrated Barrier Island Systems project.

“The science team is taking an unprecedented approach to informing coastal resilience by using cutting-edge manned and unmanned technologies in a way that will vastly magnify our understanding of the ever-changing coastline,” says Virginia’s secretary of technology, Karen Jackson. “This study demonstrates the impact emerging technologies and collaboration can have on scientific discovery and problem-solving. This is exactly the type of activity we want to see more of here on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airfield.”

The science team is conducting the coastal study under the auspices of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Resilience Institute (MACRI), founded in 2014. MACRI is a multi-state, multidisciplinary partnership dedicated to climate change research.

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