US: The University of Nevada Reno, in partnership with NevadaNano, has acquired a contract from the US Army to construct an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be used to monitor environmental health and safety of large areas. The UAV sensor, designed by Kam K Leang, mechanical engineering associate professor and the university's lead scientist on the project, will be equipped with integrated chemical sensing, interknit communication and the potential to power itself. It will fly with other systems to oversee, gather, analyse and relay data while in flight.
"The College of Engineering has made the area of advanced autonomous systems a strategic area of focus and growth in educational, research and outreach productivity. This is an area of research and development with huge potential for the economic growth of our region. One of the main reasons is the autonomous aerial systems, which have generated a rapidly growing interest in our state's existing and future industry,” said Manos Maragakis, Dean of the College of Engineering. The finished product will have the ability to detect environmental threats in vapor form, using interchangeable, onboard sensors that provide real-time data to survey a given area to, for example, locate and profile a contaminant source, such as toxic industrial chemicals and materials, semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds (pesticides, ammonia and explosives) and chemical or biological agents.