California State University Channel Islands and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration signed an agreement Tuesday on the use of unmanned aircraft in NOAA airspace.
The pact allows the Camarillo school to fly unmanned aircraft, or drones, over not just NOAA territory at the National Marine Sanctuary around Channel Islands National Park off the Ventura County coast but also the administration’s airspace near San Diego and San Francisco and in the South Pacific, according to Sean Anderson, an associate professor in the environmental science at the university.
Earlier this year, Cal State Channel Islands took possession of two Inventus-class unmanned aircraft donated by Northrop Grumman Corp. The planes will be integrated into the environmental science curriculum.
“This (agreement) allows us to share technology and perform training with the NOAA,” Anderson said.
As part of the agreement, the NOAA will get access to robotic technology developed by the university for underwater research. Anderson said his students are making underwater robots for a second year that use sensors to collect data. The drones can collect information on coastal erosion at a cost less expensive than flying a piloted aircraft over the same area, he said.
“The policy we are developing terms of operating this technology is one that essentially all other Cal State (schools) can follow,” Anderson said.