FAA grants Clemson a blanket license to fly precision agriculture drones anywhere in the U.S.


In South Carolina, the Federal Aviation Administration granted a Blanket Area Public Agency Certificate of Authorization to Clemson University allowing Clemson to fly unmanned aerial vehicles throughout the U.S. and to register more Clemson employees as UAV pilots.  This license is an expansion of a previous FAA license allowing researchers to only fly in limited areas of South Carolina.  Now, for research purposes, Clemson can fly UAVs weighing less than 55 pounds anywhere in the U.S.

“I believe the applications for this are very diverse,” said Joe Mari Maja, a sensor research engineer who has a background in computer engineering. “UAV is a game-changer in precision agriculture.”

The UAVs are used to monitor crop health and gather data to improve farming efficiency and productivity.  For example, a UAV can analyze a 10-acre field in less than five minutes, work that takes a person days or weeks to complete, Maja said.