Detailed sUAS Consumer Guide in the Works

By UAS Magazine Staff | November 16, 2015

Brett Terwilliger and his team at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide want to make unmanned aircraft vehicle consumers’ aviation experts. “There are a lot of people that understand technology but not aviation,” Terwilliger said. To help first-time and experienced sUAV buyers with their next purchase, Terwilliger, program chair of ERAU’s Unmanned Systems College of Aeronautics, is uniting ERAU faculty and students to create a consumer guide complete with a detailed review of several sUAV platforms.

The guide will also provide information on flight operations, safety protocols and regulatory necessities. “These are aircraft. With that understanding comes a level of knowledge, skills and ability that really needs to be applied in their operation. To be able to maintain safety and effectiveness of this technology we need to make sure folks have access to the tools they need to succeed,” he said.

To create the guide, the ERAU team identified more than 500 UAVs. After narrowing its review criteria, the group created a list of roughly 375 platforms that would be suitable for inclusion in a review. Although the guide will not be complete by the 2015 holiday shopping season—the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration estimates roughly 700,000 to 1 million sUAV will be purchased this holiday season—Terwilliger said the guide could be complete in 2016.

Test flights have already been performed on multiple sUAVs and future test flights and demonstrations are planned in 2016. Review members will also compare their own findings to other reviews. A crowdfunding campaign has been started to fund the purchase of sUAVs for review. Terwilliger is also seeking industry support through the donation of platforms to enhance the number of sUAVs reviewed in the guide.

“This guide will be prepared to help users evaluate options for purchase, appropriate to their skill and experience levels, while introducing key metrics for future consumer comparison,” he said.

Consumers will not only receive intel on the best sUAV for their specific plans. The guide also helps ERAU’s efforts in educating the general sUAV operator on the safety aspects and responsibilities of flying, Terwilliger said.