UAH creates fenced-in fly zone for air robots

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)- Federal Aviation Association rules say researchers cannot fly their airborne robotics in open air. Taking matters into their own hands, the University of Alabama in Huntsville has created an enclosure to keep their research rolling. A playground custom-made for aerial robots allows UAH researchers to keep testing without breaking FAA rules about open-air testing.

“We knew that if you fly inside, in an enclosed area then it’s okay,” said Norven Goddard, a UAH research scientist.

So that’s what they built: a 1,500 square foot enclosure. Perfect for unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, used in the aerospace field. The fenced-in area is surrounded by netting similar to what is found at a baseball batting cage. With remote controlled UAVs, it’s a gamer’s paradise with much aerospace technology tied in.

“It allows us to get an open environment so GPS and other components, we can test,” said Goddard.

The FAA is developing the regulations for research flight. The university is currently in the process of getting FAA certification to fly in open-air, in the meantime, this playground keeps them airborne.

“It’s great to get the hands on experience,” said Clif Egger, a UAH undergraduate student studying aerospace engineering, “you can get in the classroom and learn everything but when you get out and actually do it is when you really learn.”

Practice at the outdoor playground is expected to equip students with real-world flying and problem-solving experience with the growing sense of technology. UAH hopes the hands-on training will give their students an edge once they break into the aerospace field.

“Once a position opens up that we can fill with one of our students, they will have the background so they can start contributing immediately,” said Goddard.

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