• Embry Riddle Aeronautical University conducts drone study

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    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Drones, or unmanned aircraft, are causing controversy all over the United States, from some landing on the White House lawn to some interfering with other manned aircraft.

    Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is helping the FAA come up with rules for commercial drones.

    As the FAA continues to write the rule book for commercial drone use, millions are being spent on research.

    Embry Riddle is getting some of that money. The university must explain to the FAA how unmanned aircraft can share the sky and public airports with manned commercial jets and planes.

    "I'd say within a decade or so we could probably see that in some limited capacity," said program coordinator Dr. Richard Stansbury, Ph.D.

    Stansbury, who leads the research at Embry Riddle, took WFTV inside the lab.

    Stansbury said it's challenging, especially because drones vary in shape, size and capability. 

    "We're dealing with things that can be as small as something like this or even smaller to something that's larger than a 747," he said.

    The university will not conduct military training, but it will help develop certification requirements, specifically for pilots flying drones versus manned jets and planes.

    "We really have to figure out how those differences equate to training an unmanned aircraft versus manned aircraft," said Dr. John Robbins, Ph.D., aeronautical science department.

    Scholars said companies in the oil and gas industry and others such as FedEx and UPS have expressed an interest in using drones, but it is still years away.

    Embry Riddle is one of only 15 universities the FAA is using to study commercial drone use for the next five years.

    Embry Riddle will provide quarterly and annual reports on their progress to the FAA.

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