Auburn University team receives FAA research grant to study Unmanned Aerial Systems

AUBURN – The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded Auburn University researchers a $300,000 research grant for safety-related analyses of Unmanned Aerial Systems. The project is an interdisciplinary effort of the College of Business, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

Unmanned Aerial Systems are becoming more common in both military and civilian applications. Civil and commercial operations have shown increased interest in UASs because of their versatility and relatively low cost of operation. Because of the expanded use of UASs, plans are underway to integrate them into the National Aerospace System.

The Auburn researchers will work to create a system of classifying risk according to type and probability. This effort will help the FAA Technical Center evaluate risks and propose ways to modify those risks – crucial steps toward the development of regulations and certification requirements for the integration of the Unmanned Aerial Systems into the National Aerospace System.

Wesley Randall, assistant professor of supply chain management and principal investigator, will work on this project with co-investigators Roy Hartfield in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mark Carpenter in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Randall brings expertise as a supply chain academic coupled with 20 years’ experience as an officer in the U.S. Air Force responsible for aircraft operations, maintenance, and engineering. Hartfield has built a research program around modeling, simulation and optimization of aero vehicles. Carpenter brings 20 years of statistical consulting and research in reliability theory and applications, decision theory, predictive modeling and data mining, as well as, real world experience working with large and small private companies and government agencies in similar capacities.

The development effort for this grant was supported by the staff and resources of the Auburn Technical Assistance Center and the administrative office of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

“Research is fundamental to the mission of Auburn University and I am pleased to see the collaboration of faculty across multiple disciplines,” said Bill Hardgrave, Wells Fargo professor and dean of the College of Business.

“The College of Engineering is excited to work on this cross-disciplinary effort with our colleagues in the College of Business and the College of Sciences and Mathematics, and look forward to real benefits from this collaboration,” said Larry Benefield, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

“COSAM is a strong supporter of interdisciplinary research and this is a clear example where faculty expertise is contributing to the project scope and deliverables,” said Marie Wooten, dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

(Submitted by Dina Kanellos.)

Contact: Wesley Randall, (334) 844-6845 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (