Anyone who’s either followed the War on Terror or played the “Call of Duty” video game series has likely heard of a drone before. But not many would know that Oklahoma is the epicenter for the development of drones’ more technical names — Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS.
In particular, Oklahoma State University has one of the largest UAS engineering programs in the United States. Research and applications fall on both civilian and military purposes for such aircraft.
OSU hosted a forum on UAS programs Oct. 26. “We have a role to play similar to what happened in Silicon Valley,” OSU President Burns Hargis said. Ultimately, the goal for Oklahoma is to become the Silicon Valley of UAS as a pioneering ground for the commercial development of these systems. Various uses for UAS outside of the military include precision agriculture, railroad surveillance and monitoring, countless other data-collecting platforms.
Also speaking at the forum was Billy Gilliland, President of General Atomics Systems Integration. General Atomics, while known for its breakthroughs in nuclear fusion, also produces the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aircraft used in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Unmanned aerial systems are the greatest advance in aeronautics since the jet engine,” Gilliland said. … (Read more)