Eastman Campus Participates In UAV Use Research

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 2:00 PM
Category: School of Aviation

Macon, GA

Amazon’s recent announcement of its possible future use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to deliver packages to customers put a spotlight on the Eastman Campus of Middle Georgia State College’s own research and development of UAV uses, especially in agriculture.

Commercial uses of UAVs will be delayed until 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will develop regulations for commercial UAV use in the National Airspace System based upon the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, said Chad Dennis, the UAS Program Coordinator with the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace, which has an office on the Eastman Campus, home of MGSC's School of Aviation.

The future legislation concerning commercial UAV use will be very limited and focused mostly on safety, Dennis said. Because of the associated low risk, agriculture is predicted to be the leading industry for commercial use of UAVs in the next few years.

Dennis said commercial UAV use in agriculture will be the easiest for the FAA to regulate because the UAVs will fly in relatively low altitudes, and therefore will not interfere with piloted aircraft. Because the UAVs will be flying over small, rural locations without dense populations, security and privacy issues will not be major concerns, Dennis said.

The Eastman Campus has partnered with the University of Georgia and Guided Systems Technologies for research in aerospace and agriculture, Georgia’s leading exports. The project involves unmanned helicopters equipped with special cameras, which fly over crop fields and take pictures, which can then be read and interpreted to provide a complete overview of the crops, including crop health, bug infestation, and potential dehydration of the soil, Dennis said.

This type of agriculture, known as precision agriculture, will play a significant role in the future of the farming industry, and UAVs will play a strong role through the use of agricultural crop sprayers, Dennis said.

“With precision agriculture, you can get the entire story of what’s going on in a field, not just a sample,” Dennis said. “Not only is it cheaper, but it increases output by pinpointing problems early.”

As commercial use of aerospace technology continues to develop, the development of standard regulations remains a priority, especially concerning safety. The Eastman Campus f MGSC will continue doing its part in UAV research and development, Dennis said.

“As we are building our reputation, we are also building our capabilities,” he said.

For more information, contact Chad Dennis at cdennis@mgc.edu or (478) 374-6712.

- Tricia Purser