University expands drone fleet as commercial demand takes off


Shepherd University has expanded its drone fleet to accommodate for the increase in demand for commercial pilots across the industry.

Taking the organisation’s drone count to three, the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences purchased a DJI Mavic Pro 2 and a pair of HD digital video goggles with a grant from the Shepherd University Foundation, Women Investing in Shepherd.

The Mavic Pro 2 joins a Phantom 3 and a Matrice 100 which are used for science mapping and to collect data for students to analyse.

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The new drone is to be used in areas such as producing aerial marketing videos or doing insurance inspections.

Steven Shaffer, lecturer of environmental studies, said: “This is a cinematography drone, so it allows you to do movie-style cinematics with the drone in the air. The really special thing is the virtual reality goggles can be used with the drone, so you can look through the drone’s camera.”

Shaffer went on to say how he has seen a demand for drone courses and the new drone will help the geomatics program expand its offerings so students can learn how to utilise drones for a variety of future roles.

He added: “We’re moving from a hobby to a professional business. The FAA is changing the relationship that the national air traffic system has with drones and making it a much more formal relationship, so the demand for pilots is going to grow as those responsibilities grow.”

Starting in the spring, Shepherd will begin to offer a new class which will teach everything students need to prepare for the FAA Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge exam.

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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