UAH to conduct drone research for FAA

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) - They've got a helicopter on their banner, but they've got a whole new set of responsibilities at the Rotocraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

They've been named a "Center of Excellence," along with a handful of other institutions that applied as a group.

The center's director, David Arterburn, explains they've been selected "to support the FAA's interest in integrating unnamed systems into the national airspace system."

We're seeing limited movement in the realm of drone use right now.

Arterburn notes, "We're starting to see lot of smaller rules start being implemented, but that was based upon years of research that had been conducted just to get small systems."

However, there's a lot of room to grow.

"If we want to get larger systems and at some point get to where you have 747-size unmanned systems carrying large payloads back and forth across the United States doing the FedEx or UPS mission," says Arterburn, "Those systems are going to require a lot more work and a lot more research to show how you're going to do it safely and efficiently.."

That all starts with the kind of research they'll do here at UAH and in the sky above it.

Arterburn sums it up, "We need to do that research so that the FAA can make rules that allow us to walk, crawl, and run into that integration."