A Federal Aviation Administration decision could bring unmanned aerial systems jobs and research to Dayton in coming years, but the University of Dayton Research Institute has been ahead of the curve.
Larrell Walters, head of UDRI sensors systems division and director of IDCast, has overseen an organization that is already hard at work developing sensor systems and technology for the emerging UAS industry, and he says the developments coming out of UDRI even now show real promise. Since 2009, when it received a $3 million grant to create the center for UAV exploitation , UDRI has worked to build the sensor technology into unmanned air vehicles.
Q: What kinds of sensor technology have you been working on since then?
A: If you think of an unmanned air system without a sensor, it’s basically just a target. You really can’t do anything with an unmanned air system without a sensor. There’s two functions the sensors play. One, the ability of the aircraft to see what it’s doing and make sure it’s flying level and sees trees and things, but also to complete the mission. It’s a different set of sensors to fly — the GPS and visual systems to help the pilot see what’s going on around it — compared to complete the mission, like finding disease in crops.