Indiana State University says it has become the first higher-education institution in the state to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The FAA granted Certificates of Authorization (COAs) for Indiana State to operate a Draganfly aircraft at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field and the Indiana National Guard's Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in the southeastern part of the state.
Dan Bradley, university president, says the COAs are a “huge boost for the university’s unmanned systems program” and an “important and significant step in expanding the College of Technology's curriculum and services to meet the workforce and workplace requirements of emerging technology.’
The action is also a boost for the Terre Haute airport, according to Jeff Hauser, executive director. ‘Being in the forefront of the unmanned systems integration is a tremendous opportunity for the Terre Haute International Airport and the surrounding community,” he notes.
In addition to paving the way for Indiana State to train students for pilot and management positions, the action will “drive research into ubiquitous uses of sensors that represent an exciting future for the peaceful use of unmanned system technology,’ says Bob English, dean of Indiana State's College of Technology.
Sensors will be used not only in air, land and sea vehicles but also in such fields as medicine, precision agriculture, search-and-rescue, architecture and the media, says Don Bonte, director of Indiana State's Center for Unmanned Systems and Human Capital Development. ‘This will encourage interdisciplinary cooperation and research, create new educational and training partnerships between universities and expand existing ones, and provide new opportunities for businesses supplying products to autonomous industries,’ Bonte says.
English says Indiana State invites other colleges, universities and businesses that want to test unmanned vehicles or associated products to contact the Center for Unmanned Systems and Human Capital Development.
‘This is an excellent opportunity for testing in an approved environment with professional oversight,’ English says. ‘We want to develop relationships with partner institutions and businesses right from the outset to have a voice in these technology advances.’