ACUASI in the News
ANCHORAGE—According to Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, who kicked off Alaska’s inaugural Global Autonomous Systems Conference here last week, the state has three key ingredients to skyrocket it to drone domination: its people, the place and the policy.
The multi-day event attracted close to 200 attendees, most of whom traveled from afar to the 49th state with hopes of doing business there. These highlights from the event showcase what make Alaska uniquely situated to propel the drone industry.
The first Global Autonomous Systems Conference, with about 300 attendees and 100-plus speakers, closed Friday, Aug. 11 in Anchorage. Final comments came from University of Alaska President Pat Pitney and Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Director Cathy Cahill, who announced the conference will be held again in 2024.
The University of Alaska and the State are hosting a three-day international drone aircraft conference in Anchorage starting today. It will showcase how uncrewed aircraft can respond to emergencies, haul freight and gather scientific data. Recent test flights have proven drones can replace traditional piloted planes.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) – The world may still be a few years off from fully automated land and air travel, but that’s not stopping a Boston-based company from exploring its potential in a place that critically depends on the aviation industry.
Merlin Labs, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Center for UAS Integration and Everts Air Cargo, recently completed 25 separate test flights of a Cessna 208 Caravan equipped with an autonomous flight control system called the Merlin Pilot. Each flight departed from Fairbanks International Airport and landed in one of five rural communities across the state — Fort Yukon, Galena, Huslia, Tanana, and Prudhoe Bay.
Merlin, the aviation technology company developing the world’s most capable pilot to advance the future of automated flight, today announced it successfully completed 25 test flights in Alaska following a $1 million contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to demonstrate a highly-automated flight control system in conjunction with a safety pilot. In partnership with the FAA-designated University of Alaska Fairbanks UAS Test Site and Everts Air Cargo, the test flights reached rural areas using crewed aircraft augmented with its integrated hardware and software solution, the Merlin Pilot.
Ten remote communities will have ability to use UAS for disaster response.
(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) is launching the Alaska Rural Remote Operations Work Plan (ARROW) Program. ARROW is an innovative initiative that will greatly improve emergency response capabilities in rural Alaskan communities. By providing Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) and access to a shared geographic information system (GIS), communities will be better equipped to respond to natural and man-made disasters, protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring the safety of residents in these remote areas.
The program is made possible through a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grant Program, a competitive grant program that funds projects using technology interventions to solve real-world challenges facing communities today.
In addition to funding provided by USDOT, the ARROW Program leverages a strategic partnership between the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND Program and Alaska Center for UAS Integration (ACUASI) allowing DOT&PF and community partners to begin utilizing UAS beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) for critical infrastructure inspection.
ARROW will enable remote communities to conduct BVLOS missions using UAS, allowing them to collect critical data for a shared statewide GIS. The data will be used in response to natural and man-made disasters affecting critical infrastructure in historically underserved communities. This is particularly important in Alaska, where many remote communities are vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and extreme weather events.
The University of Alaska and Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that the University and State of Alaska will host the inaugural Global Autonomous Systems Conference (GASC) in Anchorage on Aug. 9-11, 2023. GASC is a three-day gathering that will include presentations from worldwide experts, conversations among policy and industry leaders, and opportunities to connect with visionaries in autonomous systems. The convening is sponsored by the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. ACUASI is one of the nation’s top drone research programs.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded Merlin, the leading developer of safe autonomous flight technology for fixed-wing aircraft, a $1 million contract to demonstrate a highly automated flight control system in conjunction with a safety pilot. In partnership with the FAA designated University of Alaska Fairbanks UAS Test Site and Everts Air Cargo, the Merlin Pilot will be the first autonomy system integrated into the NAS. Flight trials will run along three test routes serving five destinations. All test routes originate from the FAA designated UAS Alaska test site in Q2 2023.
Nenana’s airport will be the site of a new 4,800-square-foot hangar for the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration. The hangar will serve as a base for drone cargo test flights between Fairbanks and the small city 54 miles to the southwest.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved $3.3 million for the hangar on Feb. 24. ACUASI is a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.
ACUASI has been using the city-owned Nenana airport regularly for test flights and wants the city to become a part of an Interior drone testing hub. The airport does not have any available hangars.
Construction is expected to begin before June 30 and be complete in early fall. The university will lease land from the city.
Robert McCoy, director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, was driving to the movie theater in Fairbanks on a Saturday in mid-February when his cellphone showed an incoming call.
It was from someone with the Department of Defense’s Alaskan Command, a person he knows well. The caller had a request: Could the Geophysical Institute help search for the remains of an airborne object shot down by an Air Force fighter jet over Alaska’s Arctic Ocean seven days earlier?
ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – Alaska is the first state to be able to grant permission for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to operate and test with the aim of securing certification for national airspace flight. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the waiver this week, which was requested by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) in late 2020. Alaska is now the only state with the ability to allow UAS operations classified as research or development, including aircraft under 300 pounds, to be conducted in our UAS test-site airspace.
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted a regulatory waiver to the University of Alaska Fairbanks unmanned aircraft systems test site. The agency’s decision supports aircraft manufacturers and operators in proving the safety of their drones so they can be certified for flight in the national airspace system.The Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, ACUASI, a unit of the UAF Geophysical Institute, manages and operates the test site. ACUASI has become a national leader in implementing the safe operation and integration of unmanned aircraft.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks focuses on actionable research, and Alaska’s individuals and industries have noticed.
An unmanned aircraft owned and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks flew from the general aviation area of Fairbanks International Airport on Sunday, a historic feat in the effort to safely incorporate such aircraft into controlled airspace.
The flight was the first civilian large drone operation from an international airport in Alaska.
Taking off from the airport’s general aviation runway, the Sentry aircraft flew in a designated flight pattern used for departures, arrivals and runway approach practice. It was controlled remotely by the UAF Geophysical Institute’s Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration personnel inside the ground control station near the far end of the airport’s East Ramp.
BEYOND is focused on advancing UAS operations in the National Airspace System.