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Mike Anderson, KSL TV

USU drones to pave way for more drone services in the future

By Mike Anderson, KSL TV | Posted - Mar 3rd, 2019 @ 8:48pm


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LOGAN — Having drones deliver your Amazon packages, or even take you to work, may seem like science fiction — but they could be just a couple of many services of the future.

Researchers from Utah State University's Aggie Air are now one of just over a dozen different groups being asked to help NASA test that viability.

The testing will take place in Reno, Nevada, later this year.

“Aggie Air flies in manned airspace with pilots, and we are part of this idea that you can get unmanned aerial systems to fly and benefit society,” said Cal Coopmans, professor of electrical and computer engineering at USU.

“NASA has asked us to participate in a demonstration in what they say is the future of the airspace,” Coopmans said.

Aggie Air started in 2006, mainly helping farmers map out their crops from above.

Coopmans said their safety record and a unique UAV drone they designed on campus — an all-electric drone that collects scientific data for farmers — are among reasons why USU has been called on to help forge the future of drone commercial airspace.

“To introduce unmanned aerial systems and drones into that airspace is actually a very complicated kind of proposition,” Coopmans said. “This is our path forward to enable the infrastructure for the delivery of packages, medical devices, those kind of stuff. It can happen, and this is one step on the road to the future.”

Deseret Unmanned Aerial Systems in Tooele will also take part in the demonstration, along with several larger companies, like UBER and General Electric.

“This is incredibly exciting,” Coopmans said. “This is an example of how small unmanned systems, the drones, could fly and autonomously, safely take care of tasks and save everybody time and money.”

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