Mavericks in drone research: UT-Arlington helping FAA study unmanned aircraft

Mavericks in drone research: UT-Arlington helping FAA study unmanned aircraft
January 27, 2014
UTA drone testing
UT Arlington officials learned Friday that their program had been granted an FAA certificate of authorization allowing researchers to fly unmanned aircraft on the property surrounding its research institute, near Handley-Ederville Road and Randol Mill Road, up to an altitude of 400 feet. The university is part of the Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Initiative, one of six programs nationwide picked by the Federal Aviation Administration to help come up with rules so that drones and other unmanned aircraft can share airspace with airplanes, helicopters and other manned flying machines.

January 27, 2013
By Gordon Dickson

FORT WORTH — Moving his hands somewhat like a magician, Krishna Kanth makes a series of gestures over a small sensor — not much bigger than a matchbox — connected to his laptop.

On the other side of the room is a four-propeller unmanned aircraft, a Parrot Quadrotor, programmed to fly, hover and land as directed by Kanth’s hands. Today, the 6-pound flying machine is just a few feet away, but it could be on the other side of the world and Kanth could still control it, as long as he had a wireless connection.

“You just use the reflexes of your body,” said Kanth, an electrical engineering graduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington, explaining that using the LeapMotion sensor is easier than manipulating a joystick or pressing buttons while piloting an unmanned aircraft. “It detects the bones of my hand, each and every finger.”

Kanth and other students and professors are conducting cutting-edge research at the UT-Arlington Research Institute, both inside and just outside a nondescript building surrounded by several acres of vacant land and Mosier Lake, just south of where Texas 121 “Airport Freeway” and East Loop 820 merge in east Fort Worth. The research institute also works in partnership with the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Center for Innovation, with the hope of bringing commercial viability to the latest in technological developments.

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