TAMUCC Looking to Develop Drones - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

TAMUCC Looking to Develop Drones

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

Creating jobs for South Texas is something that is always on the mind of community leaders. One very real possibility for job creation is the future development of commercial and public unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones.

We know they've been a vital part of the military, but more recently drones are being used commercially, and the market is about to take a fast track.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi wants the Federal Aviation Administration to consider our area as one of six sites in the country to develop unmanned aerial systems, and on Tuesday, on-campus representatives from the private sector, the government and the university gathered to help prepare what they hope will be a proposal that will make it all happen.

"One of the key issues that the FAA is looking at is maritime uses of these systems, and so obviously we're right next to the ocean," said Dr. Luis Cifuentes of TAMUCC. "We have a lot of industry that will be using these systems. The energy industry, the agriculture industry."

Members of Tuesday's Exploratory Meeting gathered to develop a plan for responding to an FAA call for proposals later this month. The test sites would research and advise on issues concerning the use of drones over the nation's airspace.

Some of those issues are, for example, how the military and private business would share that airspace. For those on the development side of this new technology, like Dr. Stacey Lyle, associate professor and research scientist at TAMUCC, the economic impact is almost limitless.

"We could build some of these systems here," Lyle said. "Engineer some of these systems here. We have a lot of returning vets that have operated these systems and those individuals could help us to spin up small companies, because they're basically just model airplanes with computers."

Lyle said drone development is already an ongoing project at the university.
       
"We have designed and built a system that we can take a cell phone and attach it to a drone, and tell the cell phone where we want it to go fly, collect photos, come back and give those to us for mapping locations," Lyle said.

Cifuentes said the vision is that companies from around the world with interests in drone development would relocate to our area, should it be selected as one of the six in the country; and with that development would come, of course, jobs.

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