Texas A&M Corpus Christi leads state in unmanned aircraft research


POSTED: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 5:42pm

UPDATED: Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 11:08am

A special team of researchers with Texas A&M Corpus Christi are working with unmanned aircrafts, also known as UAV's.

"Today I was acting as the crew chief for this flight. So setting up, once we pull everything out of the truck, setting up the aircraft and then setting up the launch system and making sure we have a correct launch," said Adam Ersepke, Texas A&M Corpus Christi Senior Mechanical Engineer.   

It's a lot of work for only a ten minutes flight, but in ten minutes the UAV is able to accomplish a lot; mostly because of the technology on board.

The unmanned aircraft contains three different types of cameras. It can capture high definition video, ultra violet video and infrared video.

UAV's can be used in a variety of ways including researching costal erosion, locating people or animals, use with locating hot spots in forest fires, and identifying vegetation. For universities like Texas A&M Corpus Christi, these eyes from the sky can have limitless opportunities in areas like research.

"What we want to be able to do is fly over a body of water and see if there is an oil spill. So for things like disaster recovery, that kind of thing," said Dr. David Bridges, Director of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Initiative.

Today, each person working on the plane was there primarily to train on operating the aircraft. They are working off the idea that practice makes perfect.

"It's confusing at first, there is a lot that goes into it, but once we have repetition we have been doing this all week long, now it becomes, you know what you are doing at this point," said Ersepke.

Across the country only certain groups and organizations are legally allowed to fly UAVs. But soon, the Federal Aviation Administration will be choosing six research sights across the country to further research UAV capability.

The exciting thing about this is Texas A&M Corpus Christi is actually the lead institution in the Texas for that bid.

"It can be a little aw inspiring at times. But it is exciting," said Dr. Bridges.

The next planned flight is set for March 2013.

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