San Diego State Opens Center for Unmanned Systems Technologies

San Diego State University (SDSU) recently launched a new Center for Unmanned Systems Technologies, commonly known as its Drone Lab.

According to Lamine Secka, director of emergency services and the Drone Lab’s program manager, the goal of the new facility is to “get people thinking about ways to use drones that they may have never imagined before.”

“We want to make SDSU a drone-friendly campus, but we want to do so safely,” says Secka in an SDSU press release.

The university hopes the Drone Lab will act as a resource for researchers interested in learning how the technology could benefit their work, a centralized hub to connect drone users and ensure they are using the aircraft safely, and a way to gain more public acceptance of the technology.

The lab currently has access to nine unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of various sizes, configurations and specializations, but interested parties are welcome to bring their own personal drones to collaborate on projects, says the university.

SDSU says its Buildings and Grounds Policy stipulates that UAVs flown on campus are registered through emergency services or the SDSU Police Department. The lab is currently working to develop an app that students can use to register their drones. However, there are two designated fly zones on campus, the Exercise and Nutrition Sciences Field and the new Recreation Field, but flying on other parts of campus requires clearance.

According to SDSU, the Drone Lab was made possible by a gift from the Aztec Parents Advisory Board. Efforts to secure funding were led by board member Terry Parisher, who runs Straight Up Imaging, a UAV engineering and developing company, and whose two daughters attend SDSU.

“San Diego has a national reputation as a hub for drone development, so it makes sense for SDSU to have a center dedicated to drone use and research,” says Parisher.

The university says students could also gain access to internships and employment opportunities, thanks to the partnership with the local drone industry.

“With community involvement, you get community acceptance,” Parisher notes. “When you have that, you have a much easier time integrating drones into the airspace.”

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