University of Nevada Flies High With Drone Technology - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

University of Nevada Flies High With Drone Technology

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It's about noon on a Tuesday morning and Richard Kelley is headed into Lawlor Events Center with what looks like an elaborate remote controlled helicopter under his arm. But this is no hobby for him.

"This is an Iris Quad-Copter," he tells me. And he proceeds to launch it high above the gym floor.

Kelley is part of a growing team at UNR developing drone technology and he's working with a prototype that's just arrived here. It's the kind of unmanned-aerial-vehicles that a start-up company in Australia is using to deliver small packages.

"It's just so exciting to be working on the technology that another company is already using to put unmanned drones in the world. It's kind of mind-blowing, actually. And very cutting edge."

He's perfecting the drone's ability to recognize people, to stabilize if it's knocked and to right itself and to avoid hitting other drones or even buildings. And he is using all kinds of technology, robotics, computer science to make it happen. That's all part of a new minor created in UNR's School of Engineering catering to drone development.

"Drones are the future," says Dean of the School of Engineering, Manos Maragakis. "This is so very important. It was created in the spirit of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. And that is also the perfect recipe for economic development. We feel we need to be at the center of this industry. We have already seen a 60% increase in enrollment in Engineering at UNR. This will be good for the industry, good for the school and good for the state."

Maragakis is leading the charge, but he's not alone. He has the Governor's Economic Development Office behind him and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada too. He says the plan is to turn out graduates who can work anywhere in the world on such technology. But to try and develop the industry so that they have the option of staying right here in Nevada.
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