UNL Professors Give Drone Demonstration, Explain Why They Are Important

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- While some people may be worried about their privacy when it comes to drones, experts at UNL hope to ease that fear, and help people better understand the many uses they have.

Kids waved and marveled at these flying robots. But, professors at UNL say these drones can do so much more than take pictures and video.

With the FAA professors are now using them for research, which they hope will ease the fear about drones.

"I think people are going to be using them more and more. I think some of the fear is going to go away, and I think we will be able to take advantage of them. Some of the work we are doing, is really important to make that happen," Professor Sebastian Elbaum says.

That work is helping scientists and farmers, better understand things such as crops and bodies of water that may not easily be accessed.

"The idea is to be able to autonomously have drones that can access bodies of water, grab the water sample, analyze it, or bring it home for analysis."

When it comes to a helping farmers, Sebastian Elbaum says drones would essentially be able to get an MRI of a canopy of corn.

"We're actually trying to capture the height of the canopy, the shape of the plant, how healthy they are, which is really challenging to do and really costly these days. We expect we will be able to do that very efficiently in the short term."

Assistant professor, Carrick Detweiler, says they are working hard to make sure the computer systems work properly.

"Some of the focuses that we're working on is basically making these unmaned vehicles, these flying robots and drones safer and easier to operate. Especially when you're moving closer to the environment."

Detweiler says don't expect a drone to deliver a package to your doorstep.

Another safety issue they are working on in the lab is to keep people safe even if they do something wrong while operating them, making the drones able to take over on their own.