South Texas UAS Test Site Prepares for Full Operations

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi – one of six sites selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to test unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for integration into the U.S. national airspace system – is continuing preparations to be fully operational with another series of test flight missions over South Texas ranchland.

According to Texas A&M, researchers have been conducting missions twice a day with the university's RS-16 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and another UAV owned by American Aerospace Advisors. The school's UAV can be seen in action here.

The flights, Texas A&M reports, last about two hours, flying over the coastline and collecting data for university researchers that can be used for mapping sea grass, monitoring pipeline routes, detecting wildfire hotspots or oil spills in the ocean, and counting livestock.

‘With each test flight, we are building on our own research data that can lead to conclusions on the best ways to safely integrate UAS into our national airspace,’ says David Bridges, director of the UAS program.

In the Mission Control Center in Corpus Christi, the university notes that technicians with Camber Corp., one of Texas A&M's 15 partners on the test site, are working to refine and improve capabilities to track, monitor and receive streaming video from the UAVs and mobile operations center at the launch site.

‘All of the technology we are packing into mission control is up and communicating clearly with the operations at the ranch launch site,’ comments Ron George, senior research development officer. ‘We'll be open for business soon.’


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