Called simply the Drone Lab, the Center is making drones available to faculty and students to use for research. “As drones become more popular and affordable, San Diego State University’s new Center for Unmanned Systems Technologies, or Drone Lab for short, is looking to capitalize on its potential for crowd protection, surveillance and research while heading off potential dangers,” says a Drone Lab press release.
“The goal of the Drone Lab is to get people thinking about ways to use drones that they may have never imagined before,” said Lamine Secka, director of emergency services and Drone Lab program manager.
Secka hopes the drone lab will be a resource for researchers interested in learning how drones might benefit their work, even if they’ve never flown one before.
The lab currently has access to a dozen UAVs of various sizes, configurations and specializations. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to use the drones for research and filming.
Establishing the drone lab
The Drone Lab was made possible by an establishing gift from the Aztec Parents Advisory Board. Efforts to secure funding were led by board member Terry Parisher, who runs an unmanned vehicle engineering and developing company called Straight Up Imaging and whose two daughters attend SDSU.
“San Diego has a national reputation as a hub for drone development so it makes sense for SDSU to have a center dedicated to drone use and research,” said Parisher, who has operated and developed drones for 14 years for both government and commercial applications. “We have dozens of companies that offer services, engineering and research with drones.”
Thanks to the partnership with the local drone industry, students not only gain access to the latest technology, but also to internship and employment opportunities. Through working with the community, SDSU can help fend off the idea that drones are inherently scary and invasive.
“With community involvement, you get community acceptance,” Parisher said. “When you have that, you have a much easier time integrating drones into the airspace.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.