Oklahoma State University receives first FAA authorization to fly UAS 'swarms' within national airspace

STILLWATER, Okla., - “Swarms are the future of autonomous flight,” says Jamey Jacob, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the Unmanned Systems Research Institute (USRI) at Oklahoma State University (OSU).

Mar 25th, 2019
Oklahoma State University receives first FAA authorization to fly UAS 'swarms' within national airspace
Oklahoma State University receives first FAA authorization to fly UAS 'swarms' within national airspace
STILLWATER, Okla., - “Swarms are the future of autonomous flight,” says Jamey Jacob, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the Unmanned Systems Research Institute (USRI) at Oklahoma State University (OSU).

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration approved OSU to fly fix wing UAS in swarms within the national airspace. The university's USRI is the first group in the country to receive authorization to do so.

This flight authorization will permit a single pilot, along with visual observers for safety considerations, to operate a swarm of up to 20 fixed wing aircraft. The unique configuration developed by OSU researchers creates a “swarm of swarms” where groups of unmanned aircraft fly within smaller flocks as part of a larger swarm, communicating with a local group leader which then coordinates flights with the overall swarm formation.

This research into swarming unmanned aircraft will advance unmanned aircraft capabilities into safe operation of autonomous vehicles within the national airspace and will find direct application into ongoing OSU research in weather, environmental and infrastructure monitoring, agriculture, security, and airspace operations.

“It is incredible to be a part of such groundbreaking research as OSU paves the way ahead for expanded autonomous operations,” said Gary Ambrose, Research Development Manager and Adjunct Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at OSU. “This step opens the door for many of our research partners and sponsors; as we expand their UAS operability and capability.”

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