In what is one of the first unmanned aerial vehicle flights inside the U.S. Senate, the ATLAS™ drone developed at Oklahoma State University was demonstrated recently during a meeting of the Senate Aerospace Caucus. ATLAS inventor and OSU graduate Ben Loh flew his spherical UAV in a Senate hearing room July 31 before it was caught by Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Unmanned Cowboys, to demonstrate the inherent safety of the design. Unmanned Cowboys, a business launched by OSU alumni and faculty, develops autonomous aerial vehicle technologies.
Along with the flight demonstration, Gibbens spoke on a panel of UAV industry executives to brief Senate staff about potential UAV uses and the current regulatory environment for the technology. Other panelists included Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, Kansas State University’s UAV program manager and executives with the UAV maker Blue Chip UAS. Speakers were invited by the Aviation Industry Association (AIA).
“We are grateful to Sen. Patty Murray's office and the AIA for coordinating a drone flight in the Senate,” Gibbens said. “It was exhilarating to fly at the Aerospace Caucus and demonstrate ATLAS as a safe choice for indoor usage.”
ATLAS, or All Terrain Land and Air Sphere System, began as Loh’s Ph.D. dissertation at OSU. The UAV is designed to fly, hover, roll on the ground, and take to the air again making it ideal for search and rescue efforts by emergency responders in disasters, especially inside buildings. It’s also being recommended for facility inspection and security work by the military and private companies, including those in the energy sector. Along with Loh, Unmanned Cowboys was launched in 2014 by Gibbens, an OSU MBA graduate and current Ph.D. candidate, and OSU mechanical and aerospace engineering professors Jamey Jacob and Girish Chowdhary in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
Gibbens also discussed commercial applications across the energy sector such as emergency response, offshore efforts, and environmental remediation. ATLAS, recently granted a Federal Aviation Administration Section 333 exemption for commercial use of a UAV, will be used by her company Trumbull Unmanned in Houston for infrastructure inspections.
For information about ATLAS and Unmanned Cowboys, based in Stillwater, visit www.unmannedcowboys.com.