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FAA Awards $2.8 Million in Drone Research Grants to ASSURE's Five Research Universities

October 1, 2021

Research Universities
Twenty-five of the world's leading research institutions and more than a hundred leading industry and government partners comprise the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence or ASSURE. Graphic by Katie Clark
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced $2.8 million in drone research, education and training grants to five universities. Research will focus on three areas: Advanced material, right-of-way rules, and flight data recorder requirements.

The universities receiving grants are Mississippi State University, Wichita State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of Kansas and the University of North Dakota.

"This funding and our ongoing partnerships with these universities will allow the FAA to safely integrate the airspace that has a growing number of diverse aircraft users," said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

The grant awardees are summarized as follows:

Conduct Advanced Materials Investigation - Composite Material Analysis for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)

This research aims to identify, assess, and understand the types of composites and other advanced materials used in drones and Advanced Air Mobility. These activities will be critical for developing standards and regulations to use these advanced materials in aircraft.
  • Mississippi State University: $157,000
  • Wichita State University: $161,958
Propose Right-of-Way Rules for UAS Operations and Safety Recommendations

Right-of-way rules keep aircraft safely separated. This research will explore right-of-way rules for a wide variety of drone operations. It will provide safety-based recommendations for the FAA and drone industry standards organizations to consider in establishing drone detect-and-avoid requirements.
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: $330,000
  • University of Kansas: $494,525
  • University of North Dakota: $569,242

Identify Flight Recorder Requirements for UAS Integration into the NAS

Flight recorders can provide valuable data when drone incidents occur. This research will explore flight-recorder requirements for drones, including remotely piloted advance air mobility aircraft. The universities will share the findings with the European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: $298,145
Wichita State University: $400,000
University of North Dakota: $390,945

Today's announcement is the third round of Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) grants, which brings the total of 57 grants valued at $19.1 million for Fiscal Year 2021. The ASSURE Center of Excellence is one of six that the agency has established to help advance technology and educate the next generation of aviation professionals. Research conducted through ASSURE is focused on helping the drone market safely grow and integrate into the nation's airspace.

More than 800,000 recreational and commercial drones are in the active drone fleet, and that number is expected to grow.

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