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Unmanned Systems Research Institute team conducted its first Beyond Visual Line of Site research test flights.

OSU-USRI performs first-of-its-kind BVLOS flights

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Oklahoma State University - Unmanned Systems Research Institute (OSU-USRI) conducted its first Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS) research test flights on Dec. 18. The team operated unmanned aircraft within the national airspace system (NAS) at distances beyond the visual site of the pilot at the controls. 

“This research is a key enabler for defense and commercial sectors that safely allow unmanned aircraft to be flown at much farther distances within the national airspace system,” said Gary Ambrose, manager of engineering research at OSU who directed the mission. 

OSU-USRI is working with a team of organizations that include Vigilant Aerospace and the Central Electric Coop. The mission on Dec. 18 utilized a cutting edge air traffic management system that is being developed by NASA and Vigilant; providing additional safety features for aircraft.  

“This research advances payload delivery and remote sensing capabilities that ultimately saves money and potentially saves lives,” said Dr. Jamey Jacob, OSU mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and USRI’s Director. “Future flights will support blood delivery payloads for soldiers on the battlefield and specialized hyperspectral sensors that identify pipeline and utility failures.”

 Oklahoma State University established the first engineering focused Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program including a graduate engineering UAS option in 2011. 

“We have been granted FAA permission for night flights, swarming, and high altitude in addition to the most recent BVLOS flights,” said Jacob. “Our two test ranges from Stillwater to Pawnee will be used for aerospace research. The arrangement is the first of its kind in the state.”

 Current research partners include companies such as Baker Hughes General Electric, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, state entities such as Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and numerous Department of Defense Organizations. This will provide benefits to many of the OSU programs currently operating UAS.

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