Australian-designed commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are winging their way to the U.S. for high-tech testing at the University of Nevada, Reno, as part of a new research and development partnership with commercial delivery, UAV start-up company Flirtey.
Flirtey – now based in both Reno and Sydney, Australia – has conducted over 100 successful test deliveries of textbooks outdoors during its test phase in Sydney with textbook company Zookal.
The university will take an equity stake in Flirtey as part of the deal – which allows Flirtey to use the university’s research labs for design and manufacture, to collaborate on research with faculty and to access indoor facilities to support the company’s UAV development and growth.
The company has based its U.S. operations on campus and will be using the indoor flight facilities to test aerial robots. Flirtey has also hired engineers from the university’s Unmanned Autonomous Systems minor-degree program.
The university says the partnership is the first to bring UAV industry research and development to the campus and sets the stage for additional alliances. Those alliances may be formed under the umbrella of the University’s Nevada Advanced Autonomous System Innovation Center (NAASIC), a collaborative organization created to spur economic development and commercialization of technologies in autonomous systems.
NAASIC, led by the College of Engineering, involves the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the manufacturing industry, and K-12 and higher-education programs, in order to enhance Nevada’s workforce.
“Flirtey is partnering with the University of Nevada, Reno, to pioneer an industry, to develop safe UAV delivery technology and to position ourselves as a first mover when the U.S. commercial market opens up,” says Matthew Sweeny, CEO of Flirtey.
“Nevada is one of just six locations in the U.S. approved by the [Federal Aviation Administration] for UAV testing, and with its close proximity to Silicon Valley, budding tech scene and the state’s strong aeronautical history, Reno is positioned to become the biggest little city in the world of UAV space,” he adds.
Photo courtesy of Flirtey/University of Nevada, Reno