Oklahoma university receives USD5.2 million NASA grant to study weather for drones

US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded a team of Oklahoma State University researchers USD5.2 million over the next four years to study low-level wind and turbulence forecasting.

The research aims to improve the safe operation of drones in both urban and rural environments, particularly in the field of advanced air mobility that could one day include autonomous transport of people and cargo.

NASA’s University Leadership Initiative Award totals $32.8 million and will also go to teams at Stanford University, the University of Delaware, North Carolina A&T State University and the University of South Carolina.

“Each of these teams is working on important problems that definitely will help break down barriers in ways that will benefit the U.S. aviation industry,” said John Cavolowsky, director of NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program in Washington, D.C.

OSU investigators include professors Jamey Jacob, Brian Elbing, Imraan Faruque and Nicoletta Fala. Jacob, the director of OSU’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute, is the project’s principal investigator. Researchers from the OSU institute have worked with NASA in the past.

“Selection to the NASA University Leadership Program confirms OSU’s expertise and preeminence in unmanned systems, particularly in the area of unmanned aircraft for weather and meteorological applications,” Jacob said.

NASA hopes the University Leadership Initiative will unite its Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and prominent American research universities to produce new, innovative ideas. Jacob said the NASA University Leadership Initiative program allows university and industry teams to provide unique solutions to the most complex problems facing aeronautics today.

“The challenge our team is addressing will have an impact across a wide range of aircraft, not only helping advance the integration of drones and urban air taxis into the national airspace, but also increasing the safety of air transportation and airport operations for all aircraft from airliners and general aviation aircraft alike,” he said.

(Image: Oklahoma State University)

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