FAIRBANKS, Alaska - There is now a focus on safely integrating drones into the airspace. The University of Alaska Fairbanks was chosen for a competitive Federal Aviation Administration program to help this effort take flight. UAF has prided itself on being one of the leaders in drone technology in the world.
For the last 17 years, the university of Alaska Fairbanks has been developing it's drone program.
From monitoring ice jams, transporting goods, and even some good old fashion racing.
The university has been an innovator of drone research, and now they're getting recognized on a national level.
Late last week UAF was accepted into the national unmanned aircraft Systems Integration Pilot program, as one of the pioneers in drone research. This program hopes to accelerate the integration of drones into the airspace with manned aircraft.
Secretary Elaine Chao spoke at the press conference announcing the programs chosen. "It allows interested communities to test drones in ways that they're comfortable with. This will help demonstrate how drones can safely perform a wide range of activities at different times of the day and a variety of locations and geographies," said Secretary Chao.
UAF researchers say one of the biggest concerns is how to avoid collisions between drones and planes with people in them.
"We're testing a bunch of technologies here at the university, where we can spot another manned or unmanned aircraft, and have the aircraft actually avoid it, without any intervention on our part," said Cahill.
Cahill believes that if they can figure out a way to safely use drones for - at times - dangerous activities.
"We all know someone who has died in a small aircraft, often it's a biologist with a pilot, doing animal counts, losing a plane out over the Bering ocean, there are a bunch of different areas where it is inherently dangerous," said Cahill.
This innovative technology will potentially reduce risk and save countless lives.