The Federal Aviation Administration projects between 2016 and 2020 that sales of small, hobbyist unmanned aircraft systems and sales of UAS for commercial purposes are expected to grow from 2.5 million to 7 million. Four Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professors have written a guide to help enthusiasts better understand the booming field.
The Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Guide, written by four Embry-Riddle thought leaders and advanced instructors in the UAS field, includes everything from the history and various designs and technology to common uses, safety practices and challenges facing unmanned aviation.
Weighing less than 55 pounds, small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), commonly know as “drones,” have already become the most prevalent and affordable form of unmanned aircraft available, with applications for business, military and recreation. Already a $4.5 billion industry worldwide (Gartner), industry estimates project more than 100,000 new jobs in unmanned aircraft will be needed in the next 10 years, generating more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy.
“This book is focused on introducing readers to this constantly evolving sUAS field and the many essential aspects, while supporting their personal journey to appropriately apply this technology,” said Dr. Brent Terwilliger, assistant professor of Aeronautics and program chair for the Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus’s new online Master of Science in Unmanned and Autonomous Systems Engineering degree program expected to launch in January 2018.
The Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Guide was an Embry-Riddle community effort, Terwilliger said, with review, advice and recommendations from colleagues across all three Embry-Riddle campuses in Daytona Beach, Prescott, Ariz., and Worldwide.
In addition to Terwilliger, co-authors include Dr. John Robbins, associate professor of Aeronautical Science and program coordinator for UAS at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus; and Dr. David Ison, research chair and associate professor of Aeronautics, and Dr. Dennis Vincenzi, assistant professor of Aeronautics and chair of the Department of Aeronautics, Undergraduate Studies, both at Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide Campus.
Robbins said the book gives readers insight into “the dynamically changing world” of unmanned aircraft systems, including operations, design, application and economics.
“It also opens pathways to understand how UAS operations will be affected by both triumphs and challenges with expansion of technology, regulation, and application,” Robbins said.
Professors are using the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Guide in several classes, including Unmanned Aircraft Systems courses on the Daytona Beach and Prescott campuses; in the Gaetz Aerospace Institute where high school students earn college-credit courses; in the Unmanned Aerospace Systems Worldwide Campus course; and in the Professional Program in Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the Daytona Beach and Worldwide campuses.
“UAS operators and stakeholders need information and guidance on how to adopt technology to safely break into and keep up with this fast-paced industry,” Ison said.
Vincenzi said the UAS industry is extremely dynamic, with the technology and regulations evolving very rapidly.
“UAS operators need current information on these issues to effectively apply these technologies to current and future applications,” Vincenzi said. “This book provides that information in a concise and usable format for both the novice and experienced user.”
The new book comes after an Embry-Riddle research team last year released a guide on small unmanned aircraft systems for consumers. Embry-Riddle has been a leader in the industry of small unmanned aircraft systems as one of the first schools in the nation to offer a degree in UAS in 2011 following a minor in 2009.
Embry-Riddle now has the largest and most comprehensive UAS program in the country, with numerous bachelor’s and master’s degree opportunities throughout its campuses, as well as professional educational options. Degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the Prescott and Daytona Beach campuses and a Master of Science in Unmanned and Autonomous Systems Engineering at the Daytona Beach Campus.
The Worldwide Campus offers a Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Systems Applications and Master of Science in Unmanned Systems; an undergraduate minor in Unmanned Aerial Systems; a graduate UAS specialization, and professional sUAS education opportunities. All three campuses offer a minor in Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
Faculty and students from the three campuses also collaborate on research, including recently establishing a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration UAS Center of Excellence at Embry-Riddle called ASSURE ( Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence).
High school students across Florida are also getting hands-on training in sUAS through dual enrollment courses taught by Embry-Riddle adjunct professors through the university’s Gaetz Aerospace Institute.
The Daytona Beach Police Department also this year launched a new aviation program in collaboration with Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide and Daytona Beach campuses to use sUAS to help Daytona Beach police officers and firefighters assess hazardous areas following hurricanes or other disasters. Professors from the Daytona Beach Campus worked with police officers following Hurricane Irma and are also helping the police department develop policies and procedures on using unmanned aircraft systems.
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