STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) — This isn’t exactly the kind of drone you pick up at the mall for a Christmas present.
“It is a vertical take-off and landing aircraft,” begins OSU researcher Dane Johnson.
This is the Oklahoma State University Unmanned Flight Station near Stillwater.
This drone is a Nimbus, ready for the kind of test that might pave the way to common usage within the next couple of years if people like Dr. Jamey Jacob prove what they can really do.
“The ability to have hundreds and thousands of delivery drones out there,” he explains.
Jacob is the head of the Unmanned Flight program at OSU.
For this recent test, he partnered with a new company headed by Kraettli Epperson, Vigilant Aerospace Systems of Oklahoma City.
They’re working on software to get this drone to fly through heavy air traffic without a pilot directing its every move.
“Eventually,” he predicts, “they will be completely autonomous. They’ll be able to take off from places that are pre-staged and ready for emergencies.”
These researchers have already thought of possible scenarios like mountain rescues, natural disasters, or moving in areas where a pandemic is present and lifesaving medicine is necessary.
“We can fly this in without ever interacting with that quarantined area. No skill is required to operate this vehicle if it’s configured correctly for fully autonomous flight,” Johnson said.
The product is software. The application is emergency situations.
The future, say these testers, is already here. These aircraft can already do the job.
It is regulators who have to catch up, and the public, like us, who have to look up, when these machines start to fly.
“The future of all this is unmanned air traffic management,” says Dr. Jacob.
‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.