Texas A&M Corpus Christi is in the running to be selected by the FAA as one of six sites where the capabilities of drones will be tested and their potential for a wide variety of uses studied, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The University is the center point for a state-endorsed effort which would use airport and air space across the state, especially in remote west Texas.
Phase two of the implementation of the center has been completed. NASA's World Wind World Viewer, situational awareness command and control software and a commercial autopilot software package have been installed.
Dr. Ron George, Senior Research Development Officer, tells 1200 WOAI news that business, researchers, and government are all anxious to determine just what unmanned aerial vehicles can do.
"Once they are integrated into the air space, their uses are, just use your imagination," George told 1200 WOAI news. "Talk about precision agriculture, talk about efficiently and instantly monitoring oil and gas pipelines. Think about being able to monitor a disaster like the Bastrop fire from the air without endangering a pilot."
George says industry is 'Jonesin' for this technology.'
"Law enforcement sees it, industry sees it, state agencies see it."
He says drones have gotten a bad rap due to their offensive use in the course of the war on Terror, but he says the possibility that drones offer is unlimited.
But what about the idea that Jeff Bezos has raised of using drones to deliver packages for Amazon dot com?
"Is it feasible, I don't know?" George said. "He is apparently down the road with these technologies to see if they can work efficiently for him."
A final decision is expected by the end of this year. 25 sites have submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation to host the FAA drone testing program.