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FAA awards $2.7M to research drone use in disasters, emergencies

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded $2.7 million to support research on how drones can assist in disaster preparedness and in emergencies.

“Every second counts in an emergency, and this funding will allow drones to safely and more quickly deploy in moments when minutes matter,” said Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen.

A policeman works with a drone. (Photo: FAA)

A policeman works with a drone. (Photo: FAA)Photo:

The research will explore the use of drones in providing effective and efficient responses to different natural and human-made disasters. It will address coordination procedures among drone operators from federal agencies as well as state and local disaster preparedness and emergency response organizations. The five universities and their award amounts are:

  • University of Vermont: $1,195,000
  • University of Alabama Huntsville: $828,070
  • New Mexico State University: $400,000
  • North Carolina State University: $200,000
  • Kansas State University: $145,000

Today’s announcement is the third round of Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) grants, which brings the total to 20 grants valued at $21 million for Fiscal Year 2022.

The ASSURE Center of Excellence is one of six the agency has established to help advance technology and educate the next generation of aviation professionals. Research conducted through ASSURE is focused on helping the drone community safely grow and integrate into the nation’s airspace.

Earlier in 2022, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg outlined six key Innovation Principles the department will apply when fostering transportation technologies. While continuing to commit to the highest standards of safety across technologies, these awards demonstrate the department’s commitment to exploring ways to leverage innovation to help communities and public-sector partners through experimentation.

More than 850,000 recreational and commercial drones are in the active drone fleet, and that number is expected to grow.

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