Springfield leading the state in unmanned aircraft operations, UAS official says

Springfield is serving as the state’s one-stop-shop for unmanned aircraft and advanced aviation technologies.

David Gallagher, flight operations manager at the Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, said at a Springfield Rotary meeting on Monday that the Springfield-based center is helping lead the way for unmanned aircraft operations across the country.

“We are going through an aerial revolution right now,” Gallagher said.

Formed in 2013, the $5 million Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center manages and performs all unmanned aircraft operations for the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to the UAS Center’s website.

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“We primarily conduct flight operations using small quadcopters, or little aircrafts that can fly around bridges and road construction projects,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said the UAS Center uses quadcopter, otherwise known as drones, for things like traffic monitoring, construction project research, bridge inspection.

“This technology is huge in examining the infrastructure of our roads and bridges across the state,” Gallagher said.

The UAS Center, with the help of ODOT and the Air Force Research Laboratory, also oversees technology known as SkyVision at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

The technology allows for the safe, accurate and effective operation of unmanned aircraft systems by detecting and avoiding other aircrafts — while using radar feeds from airports in Dayton and Columbus and from the long-range radar in London, Ohio.

“As our country steps more and more into the unmanned age of flight, this technology is on the forefront of the aviation frontier. SkyVision will open doors to drone use that can be truly revolutionary,” Gov. Mike DeWine said at SkyVision’s launch last year.

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Gallagher said the UAS Center is in the process of testing the SkyVision technology to be used for thing like air-taxis in the future.

“We are testing this type of technology out there in the hopes of using it for commercial stuff in the future,” Gallagher said. “The SkyVision technology allows us to operate and test new technology in a safe environment without worrying about running into crop dusters and flight care.”

With all of the tools available for the UAS Center to experiment with, Gallagher said the center is setting the precedence for unmanned aircraft systems.

“I would say we aren’t leading the state, we are leading the country,” Gallagher said.

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