Thursday May 28, 2009

'Without a Sensor, It is Called a Target'

IDCAST received $3 million to create a Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Exploitation. The center will focus on making sensors that will improve the controls of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Ohio Third Frontier program approved $3 million Wednesday, May 27, for the University of Dayton-led Institute for Development and Commercialization of Advanced Sensors Technology to create a Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Exploitation.

IDCAST Director Larrell Walters said the center plans to provide at least 35 jobs in the next five years.

The center will be a partnership among IDCAST, the Air Force Research Lab, Defense Research Associates, L-3 Communications Nova Engineering, BAE Systems, STAN Solutions, UltraCell Corporation, i23D, Wright Brothers Institute and Co-Operative Engineering Services Inc.

Walters said the partnership would allow small and medium companies to work with Air Force researchers responsible for rapid product development "at the lowest cost of entry anywhere in the nation."

"If you go to the big Army research labs, it could cost of tens of thousands of dollars to get in the door," he said. "And, you have to be a big name to get in the door. This is a truly regional partnership that brings together academic and business researchers to help commercialize UAV payload technology."

Despite the center's name, the center's focus is not building unmanned aerial vehicles, but rather developing what goes inside the UAVs.

"We will be working on the sensors and controls of the UAVs," Walters said. "A UAV without a sensor it is called a target and is worthless. Sensors give UAVs their functions."

Eighty-three percent of the  $3 million will purchase equipment for the facility; the rest will go for operating costs. The award is contingent upon state controlling board approval.

The Ohio Third Frontier provides grants to support commercialization projects requiring major capital acquisitions and improvements at Ohio colleges and universities and nonprofit research institutions. Projects must involve one or more Ohio companies and be in the areas of advanced materials; advanced and alternative energy; instruments, controls and electronics; biomedical; and advanced propulsion.

IDCAST is a center of excellence in remote sensing and sensing technology established by a $28 million State of Ohio Third Frontier Grant to bring remote sensor and sensor technology to market through collaborations among academia, the U.S. Air Force and industry.

IDCAST, operated by the University of Dayton and its Research Institute, has been successful in bringing research and industry together to create jobs and spur economic development. In two years, IDCAST has created more than 200 jobs.

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