Oklahoma Continues To Lead the Way in Unmanned Aerial Systems

An excerpt from “State governments can help U.S. speed up drone use,” published by Reuters, July 13, 2014.

U.S. state governments should help break a regulatory logjam that currently bans aerial drones from delivering packages, filming movies and monitoring crops and pipelines, officials from a state with extensive drone experience said on Sunday.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lacks rules to govern commercial drone activity, and is widely expected to miss a 2015 deadline for creating them because of their complexity. In the interim, state governments could help with key elements to take a major burden off the FAA.

“I believe states ought to step forward and help the FAA get through this critical phase,” Stephen McKeever, secretary of science and technology for the state of Oklahoma, said in an interview from the Farnborough air show in England.

Oklahoma UAS Quick Facts:

  • Oklahoma is the Department of Homeland Security’s selected site for its small UAS Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) program, which supports first responders.
  • Oklahoma is a founding member of the International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites (ICATS), an international group of test sites for unmanned aircraft systems dedicated to sharing information, technology demonstrations, liaising with international regulatory bodies and developing business opportunities.
  • Oklahoma was awarded a multi-year contract with the Oklahoma National Guard to advance UAS training capabilities at Camp Gruber, a U.S. Army 33,000-acre training facility in eastern Oklahoma.
  • Oklahoma State University (OSU) has the only UAS master’s and Ph.D. programs in the nation. OSU operates a UAS flight station for education and training, and holds multiple world records for the design of a variety of UAS.
  • University of Oklahoma researchers are utilizing UAS platforms for weather and radar-related research and using UAS-based technology for applications that range from lower atmospheric monitoring and boundary layer studies to the development of innovative new sense-and-avoid technologies. The National Weather Center and OU’s new Radar Innovations Laboratory will continue to play important roles in OU’s UAS-based applications research.
  • OSU and OU collaborate with the National Severe Storms Laboratory to use UAS to characterize severe storms, including flying specially designed UAS into storm clouds to extract data and enable forecasters to improve predictions of tornado activity.
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