OREGON: Wildlife, product testing and surveys

By UAS Magazine Staff | October 15, 2014

It should come as no surprise that the Pan-Pacific Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site became the first U.S. Federal Aviation Administration-selected site to reach operational status. In May, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks conducted an aerial survey above a wildlife research station using an Aeryon Scout miniquadcopter. Following the successful survey above caribou present in the wildlife research station, UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers said the test illustrated an important aspect of UAS test missions. “It’s not simply about the technology, but rather about the application of that technology to real-world needs,” he said.

Several years prior to the FAA-certified UAS testing, UAFs Geopyhsical Institute experimented with UAS technology at the Poker Flat Research Range, the nation’s largest land-based rocket range and the only range of its kind owned by a university.

Spanning seven climate zones, the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range offers UAS manufacturers and potential operators to test systems in the tropics, the arctic and arid environments. The site is managed by the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, a division of the UAF-GI.
In addition to wildlife research, the UAF test range will be used to evaluate coordination procedures with air traffic controllers due to its proximity (5 miles) to the Fairbanks International Airport.

The Pan-Pacific Unmanned Aircraft Systems work has not been limited to Alaska, however. Test sites in Oregon and Hawaii are also part of the certified test site’s range. Oregon has three test ranges, one each near Tillamook, Warm Springs and Pendleton, all in the northern reaches of the state. The Pendleton UAS Range is managed by Peak3 Inc., an Alaska-based UAS solutions provider that has been crucial to the Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The Cascade Chapter has received AUVSI’s chapter of the year award two years straight. Oregon State University is currently working on UAS research.

Hawaii is utilizing three test sites, and the University of Hawaii-Hilo is also working to develop UAS technology. Earlier this year, UH-Hilo received a certificate of authorization from the FAA for the use of a UAV to assess wiliwili trees on the Big Island.