Did you know that the University of Alaska Fairbanks has one of the top drone research programs in the country?

This video provides an in-depth look at the extensive drone research efforts underway across the UA System. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is home to one of the top drone research programs in the country, and the presentation highlights research efforts underway at the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft System Integration, also known as ACUASI. The program has taken advantage of Alaska’s unique environment and, working with partners, is developing and testing drones for use in Alaska and across the U.S.

Celebrating 23 Years of UAS Research in Alaska

The Alaska Center for UAS Integration, or ACUASI, originated as a program in 2001 at Poker Flat Research Range, and over the years has expanded its scope, the equipment it operates, and the variety and complexity of research projects it executes. 

ACUASI was established as its own department at UAF  in December 2012 by the University of Alaska Board of Regents in recognition of the importance and growth of the unmanned aircraft program. It was established under the Geophysical Institute at the Troth Yeddah’ campus where it originated, but was given the role of leading all unmanned aircraft programs for the entire University of Alaska system. It was also tasked to pursue opportunities with the FAA. In 2013 ACUASI submitted a proposal to the FAA to become one of the first seven test sites established by the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. In December 2013, FAA announced that the University of Alaska had been selected.

ACUASI operates a variety of UAS ranging from small racing drones used in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach to the large 300 lb or greater class of research platform aircraft. ACUASI also possesses the vehicles, ground control stations, antennae, generators, and other accessories needed to transport and deploy the aircraft around the world. ACUASI utilizes a variety of payloads for UAS operations including: detect and avoid systems (ground-based and airborne), anti-GPS jamming systems, EO/IR cameras, lidars, methane detectors, aerosol samplers, and a host of other payloads.

ACUASI possesses all of the tools, supplies, and computers needed to maintain its unmanned aircraft fleet and payloads, from 3-D printing parts and payload mounts to applying carbon fiber patches. It maintains a well-equipped engineering laboratory to assist with payload development and aircraft modification. ACUASI also utilizes secure computer storage at University of Alaska Fairbanks for the data generated during project flights.  

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