The park opened last Spring as a result of the collaboration between the College of Engineering, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS). The 85-foot tall cage offers new resources to both users inside and outside of the university. Within the first year, over 2,000 people have utilized the park. The typical users are students building and testing custom drones or professors providing hands-on flight experience for their class. Additionally, you can find the university’s top-ranked drone racing team practicing their skills and the drone design team testing out drone-delivery systems.
“Faculty and students across the campus are working together to develop new opportunities for advancing research around unmanned aerial vehicles. As a leader in the development and testing of this technology, Virginia Tech continues to create field-based facilities and build research capacity and expertise for improving these important systems.”
– Cyril Clarke, VT Executive Vice President and Provost
The park offers the tallest flight space in the country and provides a unique “freespan” flight space made possible by steel cables holding the net up. The net provides an extra layer of safety for new pilots and experimental aircraft. The net also means the airspace is exempt from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines which enables researchers to test prototype aircraft and run tests like nighttime flights and fully automated missions that would be otherwise prohibited in open airspace. Additionally, the park provides resources for pilots at any level. They have a collection of aircraft for individuals just starting out and tools to modify aircraft as more experience pilots are practicing their skills. University Libraries has even launched a drone-lending program where students can check out aircraft to fly in the park.
Learn more about booking time at the drone park and park protocol HERE.
Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”
Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.