Drone center launched to enable unique research opportunities

A drone flying over a field

The possibilities of using a drone to assist research are endless: from mapping erosion or tree diseases in forests, to monitoring wildlife populations and activity, to measuring substances in the atmosphere, drones enable faster, easier and better research strategies. But, only for those who can navigate complicated FAA regulations, flight authorizations, and the complexity of the drone itself. That’s why Colorado State University is launching a center aimed at making drones – as well as professional drone pilots – more accessible to university researchers.

Already assisting with several university projects, the CSU Drone Center, housed in the Vice President for Research Office, will help researchers access equipment, professional drone pilots, and permission to fly in university and non-university airspace.

“Our goal is to remove barriers and increase access to drone and drone expertise, so that drone-based research can flourish at CSU,” said CSU Police Department Sgt. Christopher Robertson, who is coordinator for the center. “We’re already seeing researchers use the center to successfully access information and data that would otherwise be difficult to access without a drone, such as measuring air pollution at varying altitudes and gathering detailed images of bridges for early detection of possible failures.”

Through the center, CSU students, faculty and staff can:

  • Check out drones and related equipment for research projects
  • Gain permission to fly in university airspace, or assistance with requesting permission to fly in non-university airspace
  • Work with a professional drone pilot or receive training to fly the drone themselves
  • Get assistance with adhering to FAA flight regulations and university drone policy’
  • Access to the university’s Chrisman Airfield for research

Robertson hopes that the center can eventually expand to support research on drones themselves, and how drones can be safely integrated into air traffic corridors. One current CSU research project accessing services through the center is looking at how drones may be kept out of areas where they don’t have authorization to fly, such as over people or protected airspace.

To facilitate research projects, the center is hosting a Lunch and Learn, Getting Started with Drone-Enabled Research with the CSU Drone Center, from noon-1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, in the Lory Student Center, Cherokee Park Ballroom. To RSVP, click here. (Please note the room change to the Cherokee Park Ballroom from the previous location, LSC Room 386)

For more information please go the Drone Center’s website, or contact Sgt. Robertson at Christopher.Robertson@colostate.edu.