The U.S. Army's Project Manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS) is establishing partnerships with a handful of academic institutions as a way
to further research, advance technology and maximize progress emerging from
lessons learned in combat, service officials said.

PM UAS has set up a collaborative Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with
Middle Tennessee State University designed to promote independent research
of UAS development, deployment, tactics, techniques and procedures with a
mind to advancing academic and operational understanding of the technologies
involved, said Lt. Col. Robb Walker, Director of External Programs, PM UAS.

Academic research and study agreements are also underway between PM UAS and
Mississippi State University, Alabama A&M University and Auburn University,
Walker added.

These academic partnerships will not only facilitate ongoing dialogue
between the Army's PM UAS and the academic institutions related to the
growing use of UAS in combat operations but will also explore the full range
of the rapidly expanding uses of UAS technology.

"UAS have changed the way we fight and will continue to change the way we
operate in the U.S. It is natural and very helpful for universities to work
toward standing up a UAS curriculum, in some cases within their aerospace
engineering departments. UAS use in the national airspace, which is in its
infancy, is
something they will be able to research and study as well," Walker said.

For instance, UAS operation within the U.S. is expected to increase in a
variety of key respects and potentially contribute to the technological
advancement of domestic disaster response and humanitarian relief efforts as
well as environmental, geological, agricultural and law enforcement
initiatives. UAS may increasingly be used to study wildlife and ecosystems
and also contribute substantially to vital relief efforts in the event of
emergencies such as floods, earthquakes and wildfires.

"These UAS agreements could lead to further cross-referencing of academic
boundaries, connecting aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering and
airspace issues," Walker explained.

The agreements will allow students, in some cases, to visit Department of
Defense laboratories at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala. The research will
take up examination regarding the mechanics of UAS flight as well as sensor
technology applications, interoperability issues and cutting edge efforts
such as Manned Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) wherein manned aircraft work in
tandem with nearby UAS to share and distribute sensor feeds in real time.

"There are an endless number of things you could use UAS for. It is amazing
to see what these students think of and how they conquer problems. The
success of this program with universities will help accelerate some of the
technological advances we seek for Army UAS programs," Walker added.

Overall, the Army now manages a sizeable fleet of more than 6,000 UAS which
have logged more than 1.43 million flight hours in support of worldwide
combat missions, Walker said.

"This symbiotic relationship with academic institutions is designed to
benefit the Warfighter, something which is always the bottom line," he
added.

Page last updated Tue September 18th, 2012 at 00:00