May 23, 2022
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The Federal Aviation Administration is providing $4.4 million in drone research, education, and training grants to seven universities – with that research funding focused on three areas: electromagnetic compatibility, detect and avoid classifications, and cybersecurity oversight.

[Above photo by the FAA]

The universities receiving grants are University of North Dakota, University of Kansas, Drexel University, The Ohio State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Mississippi State University and Oregon State University.

FAA’s Nolen. Photo by Daryl Labello for Embry-Riddle University

“This funding and our ongoing partnerships with these universities will allow the FAA to safely integrate the airspace that has a growing number of diverse aircraft users,” noted FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen in a statement.

The agency noted that this is the second round of Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence or ASSURE grants, which has issued 15 grants valued at $18.3 million for fiscal year 2022. The ASSURE Center of Excellence is one of six that the agency has established to help advance technology and educate the next generation of aviation professionals.

Research conducted through ASSURE is focused on helping the drone market safely grow and integrate into the nation’s airspace, FAA noted, as there are now more than 800,000 recreational and commercial active drones operating in U.S. airspace – a number expected to continue growing.

Several state departments of transportation are currently involved in a wide range of drone tests.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is one of several state agencies working with the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network or OVNI to explore operating small drones beyond the line of sight of a pilot for just-in-time deliveries, medical transport needs, and other “small-scale” deployments.

In December 2021, the aeronautics division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation began collaborating with drone provider Skyports to demonstrate how drone services could link communities across the Cape Cod region.

MassDOT said it is investigating the uses of drones as a solution to connecting its remote communities to everyday services such as healthcare and logistics, and in particular is looking to develop a capability to provide emergency medical delivery after storms or other natural disasters.

In July 2021, the North Carolina Department of Transportation completed two successful trial flights of a delivery drone from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. NCDOT’s Division of Aviation, in partnership with the NCDOT Ferry Division and U.S.-based drone logistics company Volansi, conducted the two eight-mile round trips that averaged 18 minutes of drone flight time each.

editor@aashto.org

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