Insitu, Dedrone partner with University of North Dakota Aerospace

By Patrick C. Miller | May 09, 2018

The University of North Dakota John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences will partner with two companies, adding to the school’s unmanned aircraft system (UAS) training curriculum, introducing a new unmanned aircraft platform and installing counter-drone technology for flight operations.

Insitu Inc.—a subsidiary of The Boeing Co.—and UND at Grand Forks will make additions to the university’s UAS degree program and research enterprise. Dedrone Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, will be installing its drone detection technology at UND facilities to secure airspace operations and provide hands-on learning opportunities for aviation students.

In conjunction with UND’s 50th Anniversary of Aviation Education and Research, the university will integrate Insitu’s INEXA Control, TacitView and Catalina UAS software into its aviation UAS curriculum in the fall of 2019. In addition, the university will add Insitu’s recently launched ScanEagle3 UAS platform to its fleet of more than 150 aircraft. UND currently operates an earlier version of the ScanEagle

“We are excited to expand our long-term partnership history with UND, and we’re proud that UND will be the first university to become a ScanEagle3 customer,” said Mark Bauman, vice president of Insitu Commercial. “We are looking forward to the launch of the new INEXA-based curriculum and providing increased services and support for the UND UAS program as this solid foundation will serve both organizations very well, far into the future.”

Paul Lindseth, dean of UND’s aerospace school, said, “We are thrilled to offer these exciting opportunities to our students at UND, and these state-of-the-art curriculum additions coupled with ScanEagle3 will further advance our technical capabilities at our Unmanned Aircraft System flight training complex.”

Dedrone, which specializes in in airspace security, will partner with UND’s UAS education program. The company’s UAS detection technology will be installed to improve safety and security for current UAS flights, while expanding opportunities for research and training in the university’s counter UAS and data-driven curriculum.

“Safe and reliable airspace includes security systems to help detect and track non-cooperative aircraft,” said Paul Snyder, assistant chair and director of the university’s UAS program. “At UND, unmanned aircraft are a daily part of our flight operations and curriculum, and it is a natural step to bring Dedrone into our curriculum as we continue to lead the effort to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace system.”

UND will install Dedrone’s radio frequency sensors, the RF-100 and RF-300, into a mobile counter-UAS truck to detect and track aircraft within designed areas where UAS flights are being conducted. The sensors will detect and track information including the flightpath and location of the pilot.

Data collected will be incorporated into the curriculum of more than 200 of UND’s UAS-related majors and minors and be used a foundation for related research. “Students will have firsthand access to Dedrone technology to understand the intersection of airspace security and technology, and the importance of risk mitigation for UAS operations,” says Amanda Brandt, UND’s chief UAS pilot.

“Dedrone is proud to be aligned with UND’s accomplished aviation and UAS program,” said Joerg Lamprecht, CEO and co-founder of Dedrone. “UND understands the risks drones pose to their operations and are providing our future airspace leaders a hands-on experience to learn about drone detection and cUAS systems.”

Insitu’s Commercial Aviation Department will provide curriculum training and support services for UND. The university will provide flights during which students can experience operating as a UAV pilot, a mission commander and a sensor operator during. In addition, UND Instructors and staff will be among the first to receive ScanEagle3 training. This platform will be implemented into the university’s aircraft fleet as it becomes available. 

In conjunction with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, UND has several certificates of waiver or authorization (COA) that allow the use of ScanEagle across North Dakota.  Opportunities for research and development include: developing new sensors; engaging in demonstrations and aerial inspection services for oil companies; providing emergency response and research supporting Minnesota wildfire reaction; developing detect-and-avoid and beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) capabilities; improving data collection; and conducting powerline inspections.