Ohio State, UC-Davis join ASSURE team

May 13, 2015

The Ohio State University and the University of California, Davis have joined the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE).

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected the ASSURE team to run a new National Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (COE UAS).

ASSURE is comprised of the world's top UAS universities with 15 core schools and five associate members from three countries and more than 100 government and industry partners. Mississippi State University is leading this alliance of academic and industry partners that will launch a new era of commercial unmanned aircraft research, development, and integration into the nation's airspace.

The COE will have a close partnership with the seven FAA UAS test sites for UAS flight test. Research will take place at member universities throughout the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and other global sites. The center will be headquartered at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss., to take advantage of the NASA, NOAA and Department of Defense resources located there.

"This has been a six-year effort for Mississippi State and three years for our partner universities. We picked our team because they know unmanned systems and they know the FAA. That will make it easier to turn UAS research into FAA rules quickly," said USAF Maj. Gen. (Ret.) James Poss, the executive director of the ASSURE FAA UAS COE team at Mississippi State.

"We are pleased to welcome Ohio State and UC Davis," he said.

Congress has charged the FAA with developing rules regulating commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the new center will play a key role in that process. The COE will provide the agency and industry with research, education and training to maximize the potential of commercial unmanned systems with minimal changes to the current system regulating manned aircraft.

"This world-class, public-private partnership will help us focus on the challenges and opportunities of this cutting-edge technology," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We expect this team will help us to educate and train a cadre of unmanned aircraft professionals well into the future."

The COE research areas are expected to evolve over time, but initially will include: detect and avoid technology; low-altitude operations safety; control and communications; spectrum management; human factors; compatibility with air traffic control operations; and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crewmembers, in addition to other areas.

"This team has the capabilities and resources to quickly get up and running to help the FAA address the demands of this challenging technology over the next decade," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The FAA expects the COE will be able to begin research by September 2015 and be fully operational and engaged in a robust research agenda by January 2016.

Congress appropriated $5 million for the five-year agreement with the COE, which will be matched one-for-one by the team members.

In addition to Mississippi State, the other team members with Ohio State and UC Davis include Drexel University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Kansas State University, Montana State University, New Mexico State University, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, University of Alabama-Huntsville, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, University of Kansas, University of North Dakota, Wichita State University, Auburn University (associate member), Concordia University, Canada (associate member), Indiana State University (associate member), Louisiana Tech University, Tuskegee University (associate member), and University of Southampton, UK (associate member).