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Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Chosen For Drone Testing


Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi has been named a test site to develop drones for commercial use.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that Texas is one of six states that will be development sites for the unmanned aircraft.

The university's president, Flavius Killebrew, says the school is "proud to be a part of this historic moment in aviation history."

The university already has been researching drones for two years, investigating how to use them to map sea grass, detect oil spills and wildfire hotspots, monitor hurricanes and count cattle for ranchers.

The 11 Texas test ranges are south of Fort Stockton, south of Fort Hood, outside College Station and several in South Texas outside Beeville and south of Corpus Christi.

NPR reports:

The FAA's approvals were highly sought after because the test sites are expected to bring high-tech jobs and investments to the states where they're located. The six winners are: -- The University of Alaska, which the FAA says proposed "a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon." -- The state of Nevada, which has pledged it will take "a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment." -- North Dakota, which offered the only test range "in the temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users." -- Texas A&M Corpus Christi, where researchers plan "to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing." -- Virginia Tech University, which will test and evaluate operational risks at sites in Virginia and New Jersey. -- Griffiss International Airport in central New York State, where part of the focus will be "researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace." The potential commercial use of drones got a big shot of publicity earlier this month, of course, when founder Jeff Bezos said his company has been working on an airborne delivery system for packages that weigh less than 5 pounds.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.