The country's latest drone research site is now up and running, regulators said Friday, on a Texas campus where researchers will explore operational issues at a time when commercial use of drones seems poised for expansion.
The site, the fourth of six that will be dedicated to studying and testing unmanned drones, is at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Researchers will explore airworthiness standards, safety issues and detect-and-avoid technologies in an effort to gauge how drones can be integrated into U.S. airspace.
The drones will be used for projects such as "preservation and restoration of the ocean and ocean wetlands along the Padre Island National Seashore; research in advance of approaching tropical depressions; support to law enforcement in the Padre Island National Seashore; and providing metrics and lessons learned from these flights to the FAA," the FAA said.
The FAA has granted the campus a two-year license to use an RS-16 drone, which weighs about 85 pounds and has a wingspan of almost 13 ft.