Cedarville University seniors incorporate UAS

By Emily Aasand | October 30, 2014

Two Cedarville University geology and geoscience students are using an unmanned aerial system (UAS) to help gather data for senior research projects.

The Ohio-based university began working on contracts to incorporate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on campus this spring and began implementing them in research projects this summer.

The UAV the students are using is The Maveric, a fixed-wing aircraft manufactured by Prioria and distributed by Remote Intelligence. The partnership between Remote Intelligence, a UAS services and consulting firm, and Cedarville developed out of Thomas Rice’s long-standing relationship with the Pennsylvania-based firm and because of Cedarville’s background.

“They wanted to partner with us to offer up services that train students how to fly UASs and teach them how to take the imagery and manipulate it,” said Rice, assistant professor of geology. “They’ve brought their various aircraft to campus and have done some overflights for us.”

Ryan Gustafson, a geology major from Fox Grove, Illinois, is researching the cause of standing water and remediation of storm water runoff on Cedarville’s cross country field.

“Ryan has been on the cross country team for years and noticed that there are always certain places where water seemed to pond and wanted to examine those areas,” said Rice.

The UAS flew the cross country course, collected video and data, which Gustafson is in the process of analyzing. Gustafson will be presenting his senior project, which is slated to be completed by December.

The second student, Samuel Rice, a geoscience major, is using a UAV to fly over a lake on campus to see if there has been any changes in the lake depth over the last two years.

“Those overflights were done and after Sam looked at the data and the imagery, he found using UASs probably weren’t the right tool to observe this type of change,” said Rice. “Even though it [UAS technology] is not shedding light on this particular lake filling in, it’s worth knowing.”

Remote Intelligence is handling the overflights for these senior projects, but the university is in the process of applying for a COA.

“We’re excited to be working with Remote Intelligence and waiting to see what the FAA says about our COAs,” said Rice.

Cedarville University is just one of many in the state. Rice added that later this year, Ohio universities are coming together to discuss each current college’s current status with UAS programs and what needs to be implemented to make sure Ohio stays in the forefront of UAS research and flight operations.