Insitu Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company, and the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks (UND) announced significant additions to the university’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) degree program and research enterprise.
In conjunction with UND’s 50th Anniversary of Aviation Education and Research, the university will integrate Insitu’s INEXA™ Control, TacitView™ and Catalina™ UAS software into the UND’s Aviation UAS curriculum in the fall of 2019. Additionally, as the university currently utilizes ScanEagle UASs, it will augment its fleet of more than 150 aircraft by adding Insitu’s ScanEagle® 3 UAS platform launched on May 1 at AUVSI’s Xponential 2018.
Insitu’s partnership with UND began in 2010 when In preparation for a flood across the Red River Valley at the North Dakota/Minnesota border, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty enlisted the help of UND to monitor rising river levels along the Red River, which threatened communities along the North Dakota and Minnesota border.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Certificate of Authorization (COA) permitting ScanEagle to be flown over the flooded area during this operation, and UND directed the effort with assistance from an Insitu flight operations team. This was the first time a university and a Federal agency collaborated on a project where a UAS was used for flood plain research.
“We are excited to expand our long-term partnership history with UND, and we’re proud that UND will be the first university to become a ScanEagle3 customer,” said Mark Bauman, Vice President, Insitu Commercial. “We are looking forward to the launch of the new INEXA-based curriculum and providing increased services and support for the UND UAS program as this solid foundation will serve both organizations very well, far into the future.”
“We are thrilled to offer these exciting opportunities to our students at UND, and these state-of-the-art curriculum additions coupled with ScanEagle3 will further advance our technical capabilities at our Unmanned Aircraft System flight training complex,” said Dr. Paul Lindseth, Dean of the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota.
Insitu’s Commercial Aviation Department will provide curriculum training and support services for UND as UND provides flights in which students experience operating as a UAV pilot, a mission commander, and a sensor operator during the flights.
Additionally, UND Instructors and staff will be among the first to receive ScanEagle3 training, and ScanEagle3 will be implemented into the fleet as it becomes available.
“The ITAR-free ScanEagle3 will help us to continue to be leaders in autonomous systems and enable our UAS program to be available to international students for the first time, as the students have not been able to participate in the UAS program due to ITAR concerns,” explained Paul Snyder, Assistant Chair/Director, UAS Program, UND Aerospace.
In conjunction with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, UND has several certificates of waiver or authorization (COA) that allow the use of ScanEagle across North Dakota.
Because of the COAs, UND and Insitu will have numerous opportunities for research and development including:
Developing new sensors
Demonstrations and aerial inspection services for oil companies
Providing emergency response and research supporting Minnesota wildfire reaction
Developing detect and avoid and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) capabilities
Improving data collection
Providing powerline inspection