As interest builds, drone club is a possibility

About 30 students gathered in the Living/Learning Complex to fly drones Oct .20

Members of the UVM Tech House at Living/Learning hosted the drone-flying event.

Drones of shapes and sizes were displayed on tables around the room. Some were built by UVM students.

“You can make a drone out of pretty much anything,” Tech House member, First-year Eddie Ling said.

Ling brought a drone he built from a kit.

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The UVM Tech House flies a drone in Living/Learning Complex Oct. 20. Drones have many uses, including aerial photography and crop inspection. COURTNEY CUNNINGHAM/The Vermont Cynic

“I love the technology,” Ling said. “They’re easier to fly than planes, and they can hover.”

Drones whizzed around, buzzing and flashing with LED lights as students flew them around the classroom.

Some students screamed as drones chased them around the room while others shrieked as their drones collided and fell to the floor.

First-year Nelson Healy set up a virtual reality simulator that allowed students to wear goggles and fly drones, first-person, in a virtual course.

Healy is starting a club for students who are interested in flying and building drones, but said he is waiting for risk management clearance from the SGA before his club can be officially recognized.

Healy said he has been flying and building drones for about five years and racing competitively for a year.

Healy participates in drone competitions with hopes that he will land a sponsorship from a tech company like Lumenier or Team BlackSheep, he said.

“Drones are a balance between speed and durability,” Healy said. “You can just annihilate these things in the park and that can be a lot of fun.”

During drone races competitors race through designed courses. They identify targets and photograph images.

For some competitions, they attach mini LED laser guns to drones and have laser gun battles, he said.

Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration conducted an investigation after an individual uploaded a video of a drone shooting a semi-automatic handgun, according to Business Insider.

The FAA is the federal organization responsible for the advancement, safety and regulation of civil aviation, according to their website.

The FAA does not currently regulate drones if the operator adheres to the rules of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, a community organization that creates drone regulations, such as where and what can be flown, Healy said.

“If you ignore the code, you are subject to the same regulation as an aircraft,” he said. “People who are not involved in the community can just ignore the rules completely, and that’s a problem because it makes everyone look bad,” Healy said.

Drones have a variety of uses ranging from hobbies like shooting aerial photos to industrial uses such as crop dusting and inspection, Healy said.

Healy said he hopes to educate people through his club and change the perception people have of drones.

“A lot of capabilities people think are there just aren’t,” he said.

Healy will be sending an email this week to students who have shown interest in drones.

Anyone interested can email [email protected] to learn more about the club.