UAH leads in drone safety project

UAH team works to develop international safety standards

UAH Autonomous Aerospace Research (A2A) is a leader in the development of FAA standards for drone flight safety, design and operation. Photo by Michael Mercier, UAH.

Researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are helping develop safety standards for flying drones over people.

The University’s Autonomous Aerospace Research (A2R) center is doing the work in its role as a Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for small, unmanned aircraft systems.

The FAA goal is to develop standards that will help prevent injury to humans — by making the drones safer, keeping rotating parts enclosed and more — and a Means of Compliance to determine whether the standards are being met.

UAH has taken the lead on developing the standard for ASTM International — formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials — which is working with the FAA.

Chris Duling, the A2R associate director and a principal A2R research engineer, is serving as ASTM work item leader for the initiative. 

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“My working group is developing a document that serves as a guide to applicants for testing and documenting compliance,” Duling says. “Our group is working with the FAA to gain their acceptance of the various Means of Compliance strategies. Next, we will be forwarding the full document to the F38 uncrewed systems committee to get their feedback on it. Then it goes to a vote for being published by ASTM.” 

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