Oklahoma selected for unmanned aircraft project

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STILLWATER, Okla. — Local engineers are hard at work designing unmanned aircrafts following a recent announcement that Oklahoma was picked by the U.S. Department Of Homeland Security for a research project to help first-responders.

We’ve seen the idea of using unmanned aircraft overseas in the military.

Now, Homeland Security wants to use them at home.

“I think it’s going to be good for everyone, to keep us safer,” Kim Carter said, Director of Oklahoma’s Homeland Security Office.

Carter said unmanned aircrafts will help emergency responders, the National Guard and police and fire departments.

The aircrafts can send back high-tech video and use other life-saving technology during search and rescue missions, fires, even hazardous material spills.

“Why would we have to send a man or woman in a hazardous material suit down range to look at a hazardous materials spill to see what kind of tools they’ll need and how they’re going to attack it, when we could send an unmanned aircraft to take a look at it, and then report back,” Carter said.

Dr. Jamey Jacob, a professor of aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State, which has been selected by Homeland Security to design and test unmanned aircrafts, said the applications of unmanned aircrafts are endless.

“You have a tornado run through an area, you need to find victims very, very quickly,” he said. “How can you utilize that technology to really help first responders?”

OSU aerospace engineering students were hard at work Thursday, showing us how some of their aircrafts will be able to take off standing straight up.

Some weigh as little as five pounds with four-foot wing spans.

These students can crank out unmanned planes in as little as six weeks.

Students like Wes Combs said the work is fun as well as important.

“It really makes you appreciate that people are depending on you and we’re the guys behind the scenes,” he said.

The grant money for this research project is $1.4 million a year for the next three years.

They’ll eventually test these aircrafts in the restricted airspace around Ft. Sill in Lawton.

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