TEXAS: Lone star State embraces UAS

By UAS Magazine Staff | October 15, 2014

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi unmanned aircraft systems test site was granted permission to conduct research at the end of June, the fourth of six to become operational. The team was granted a two-year certificate of authorization by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to use an AAAI RS-16 UAS, which weighs approximately 85 pounds, has a wingspan of roughly 13 feet, can travel at 65 knots (almost 75 mph) and can carry a payload of up to 25 pounds.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will focus its research on safety of operations and data gathering in authorized airspace, UAS airworthiness standards, command and control link technologies, human-factors issue for UAS control-station layout, detect-and-avoid technologies, and will investigate UAS surface and air volume environmental impacts.

According to the FAA, specific projects include preservation and restoration of the ocean and ocean wetlands along the Padre Island National Seashore, research in advance of approaching tropical depressions, support to law enforcement in the Padre Island National Seashore, and providing metrics and lessons learned from these flights to the FAA.

“The campus uses images acquired to monitor campus facilities and derive 3-D models of the infrastructure as well as monitor shoreline change and assess coastal hazards facing the island campus,” said Michael Starek, assistant professor of geospacial science and engineering.

 At the end of June, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence & Innovation flew its first mission gathering video, ultraviolet and thermal image data from the onboard multi spectral camera for university researchers monitoring coastal habitats and shoreline changes.

The team will focus on UAS airframe design, sensor development, communications technology, modeling and simulation, and flight operations in airspace authorized by the FAA.