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A 'monster garage' for UAV research

UDRI’ S Center for UAV Exploitation now open, already working to step up unmanned aircraft technologies

Rick Scudder likens the University of Dayton Research Institute’s new Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Exploitation (CUE) to a “monster garage” for UAV technology – a place where industry, academia and the Air Force can work together to design, develop and market the systems that drive UAV aircraft.

“We now have the state-of-the-art equipment and capabilities to support the work of world-class engineers, scientists, designers and operators in UAV systems research and development,” said Scudder, director of the CUE, before a grand opening celebration Sept. 9 at the center. Located in the Wright Brothers Institute’s TecEdge Works facility at 105 Janney Road in Dayton, the CUE was created with Ohio Third Frontier funding to foster the development, integration, testing and commercialization of sensor, communication and power systems for UAVs weighing less than 150 pounds. “We won’t be building UAVs here, but we will be working with our collaborators to advance the components that drive them – the sensors, communication, control, power and sensor systems that give UAVs their unique capabilities,” Scudder said.

Unmanned aircraft have many advantages over their manned counterparts, including size, extended flight time and cost efficiency, Scudder added. While these qualities make them ideal for military use, UAVs are equally suited for civilian applications that also require airborne information gathering – from simple aerial photography to search and rescue, agricultural and forestry management, transmission line inspection, civil patrol, weather monitoring and more.

“With the growing demand for UAV technologies for national security and emergency response applications, this center will be a boon to the Dayton region – which is trying to establish itself as a home of UAV expertise, training and education – as well as to Ohio’s manufacturing and aerospace industries,” Scudder said. “The CUE offers the perfect environment for our university, industry and Air Force partners to collaborate and rapidly fuse their technologies, and it will provide a path to market for small and large companies involved in UAV component development and manufacture. In addition, the WBI’s TecEdge Works facility provides an ideal infrastructure to support the center’s mission.”

CUE facilities include six interdisciplinary laboratories equipped for research and development in power and propulsion, communication, onboard sensing and computing, control systems, rapid prototyping and software development. Center capabilities and services also include flight demonstration and testing, high-speed image and signal processing, fuel cell and battery testing, technology incubation and commercialization support, Scudder said.

The center, a component of UDRI’s Sensor Systems division, will leverage existing regional strengths in advanced materials, sensors and aerospace systems to build expertise in UAV technologies, Scudder added. “We’re poised to make Ohio a nationally recognized center of excellence in unmanned aerial systems.”

The CUE concept was launched in August 2009 with a $3 million award from the Ohio Third Frontier, matched by $3.4 million in Air Force and industry collaborator funding.

Each year, sponsored research programs at the University of Dayton provide real-world research opportunities to nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate students working with more than 500 professional and faculty researchers from the Research Institute, the School of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Sept. 9, 2010


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