Give UAS Peace A Chance

By Patrick C. Miller | February 26, 2015

Sometimes when I make a call to get more details on a development in the world of unmanned aerial systems, the discussion becomes less of an interview and more of a chat. Such was the case when I spoke to Kurt Carraway, UAS flight operations manager at Kansas State University Salina.

I’d called him to get more information on the three certificates of authorization the Federal Aviation Administration granted the university to conduct research over the entire state—a first in the nation. But as Carraway pointed out, the interview became more of a chat as we ventured into many other UAS-related areas.

As a university that offers a bachelor’s degree is UAS, Carraway wonders about the types of career opportunities that will be available to students who graduate with the degrees.

“There’s so much to be done, and when it comes to commercial applications, you can’t really come up with any type of industry that could not be impacted in a good way by UAS,” he observed.

As if to reinforce the idea that there are few boundaries when it comes to UAS applications, a group of United Nations experts this week recommended that the organization’s peacekeepers incorporate technological advances into their operations “to better confront the dynamic challenges of the 21st century.” UAS technology is one of the areas the UN believes can assist its technology.

The UN cited a recent example in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had an immediate impact. A UAV detected a ferry accident on a lake. In this instance, the country’s vast distances and difficult terrain didn’t impact the ability of the UN peacekeeping mission to quickly dispatch speedboats and helicopters to the scene, resulting in the rescue of 15 people.

“No advantage should be withheld for those working for peace,” said peace and security expert Jane Holl Lute. “Missions must deploy with at least the same technological advantages that most governments and enterprises around the world now find indispensable to their daily operations.”

As a report issued by the experts details, there are many areas in which UAS technology could aid in peacekeeping efforts around the world. Someday, KSU Salina graduates might be among those helping to keep the peace.