Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) research at DRI

11414-fenstermaker-uas-smlThe face of aviation is changing across the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that Nevada has been selected as one of six locations to be a test site for conducting critical research into how unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can be integrated into our national airspace.

Nevada received this designation according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development because it offers great opportunity for training, software development and data centers in addition to unmatched testing sites at places such as Nellis Air Force Base, the Nevada National Security Site and Reno-Stead Airport.

UAS-2014Download PDF Fact Sheet“With the climate and air space of Nevada, we are uniquely equipped to help expand the development of UAVs,” Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said. “We have also partnered with private industry and academia to establish the curriculum necessary to create the UAS civilian workforce of the future in Nevada.”

Researchers at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) are exploring ways in which unmanned aircraft systems are increasingly being used in civilian government work as well as the private sector for use in applications as diverse as cloud seeding to fighting forest fires.

DRI has partnered with the private industry and academic institutions to conduct research on civilian applications. Our experts are available for media interviews:

Dr. Lynn FenstermakerDr. Lynn Fenstermaker is serving as the DRI representative for UAV activities with a focus on linking faculty expertise with UAV needs and interests of business and government entities. She has experience and interests in the use of remotely sensed data to map, monitor, and assess the effect of environmental stressors on vegetation at small and large scales. She worked with UNLV to develop a Class I UAV platform that has been used for the past seven years to acquire multispectral and color images of research plots to assess hot spring biofilms, climate change treatment effects and basic plant cover information. She is currently working with other faculty to develop a “next gen” DRI UAV platform.

Dr. Alan GertlerDr. Alan Gertler is the Vice President of Research and Chief Science Officer at the Desert Research Institute.  He is also the Senior Director of DRI’s Clean Technologies and Renewable Energy Center, the organizational umbrella under which all of DRI’s renewable energy research, education, and outreach are conducted.  His research includes both laboratory and field studies of atmospheric chemistry with particular emphasis on the impact of mobile sources on the environment.

About the Desert Research Institute: DRI conducts cutting-edge applied research in air, land and life, and water quality across Nevada, the United States and on every continent.


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