The Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation (LSUASC) in Corpus Christi, TX was chosen as one of seven Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS test sites in the United States. LSUASC is a Texas-wide partnership for research, development, testing and evaluation of UAS technologies led by educational institutions Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Texas Engineering Experiment Station, and the Lead Systems Integrator, Camber Corporation bringing UAS to America’s skies.
That partnership was evident this summer, as the skyline of downtown Corpus Christi was dotted with drone activity thanks to a partnership between the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation and NASA. The two entities, which have worked together for nearly five years, are entering the final stages of testing for their Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) project for the purposes of safely integrating UAS into the National Airspace System.
“According to FAA market research, there will be more than 800,000 small UAS operating in the National Airspace in the next 10 years, so there needs to be a way to test drone traffic management in an urban environment,” said Mike Sanders, Acting Executive Director of Lone Star UAS. “Whether it’s for package delivery, bridge or pipeline inspection, or remotely piloted air taxis, this UTM project is integral to creating the robust and sophisticated software needed to support this emerging technology.”
In February 2019, NASA selected Lone Star UAS as one of only two test sites to spearhead UTM testing, with Reno, Nevada, being named as the other test site, according to Ronald Johnson, UTM Project Manager with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.
Rehearsal flights took place in July in various areas in and around downtown Corpus Christi, with official testing from Aug. 12-23. There were more than 100 participants involved in the project, including more than two dozen student interns from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
“A&M-Corpus Christi has been named one of the 10 best places in the country to study unmanned aircraft systems and the students that come to the Island University are getting an experience unlike anywhere else in the country.” said TAMU-CC President Kelly Quintanilla.