Monthly Archives: August 2015

OSU Drone Makes Historic Flight

 

Ben Loh flies the unmanned aerial vehicle. Courtesy: Oklahoma State University

Ben Loh flies the unmanned aerial vehicle. Courtesy: Oklahoma State University

The pic above shows a drone developed by OSU grads and professors making an historic flight inside the U.S. Senate. (Kinda looks like the remote that Luke Skywalker used to train with in Star Wars!!)

The drone is called ATLAS or All Terrain Land and Air Sphere System. It was developed by Ben Loh, an Oklahoma State University graduate. This flight took place in a Senate hearing room on July 31st. It’s the first time an unmanned vehicle took flight inside the U.S. Senate. It was one of the main attractions during the Senate Aerospace Caucus.

Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Unmanned Cowboys. Courtesy: Oklahoma State University

Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Unmanned Cowboys. Courtesy: Oklahoma State University

Loh, Dyan Gibbons, and two other OSU professors started Unmanned Cowboys  in 2014. The company develops drones and “autonomous aerial vehicle technologies”.

ATLAS can fly, hover, roll on the ground, and take flight again. Loh and Gibbens say it works great inside buildings and that ATLAS is perfect for search and rescue situations.

During the caucus Gibbens briefed Senate staff about different ways drones can be used. She was also on a panel with other industry executives.

“We are grateful to Sen. Patty Murray’s office and the AIA for coordinating a drone flight in the Senate,” Gibbens said. “It was exhilarating to fly at the Aerospace Caucus and demonstrate ATLAS as a safe choice for indoor usage.”

Audience members inspect ATLAS. Courtesy: Oklahoma State University

Audience members inspect ATLAS. Courtesy: Oklahoma State University

This Scientist is OK- Dr. J.P. Masly

Dr. J.P. Masly is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Oklahoma. He studies how genes evolve over time to form complex organisms (like you and me!!).

He recently received an award from the National Science Foundation that will allow him to continue with his research and build educational outreach programs in the community.

He talks, in this video, about why he studies the genes of fruit flies (here’s a hint, we’re a lot a like) and at the 2:15 mark about why he thinks science and religion do not have to conflict.

Using Radar to Track Bird Migration

Two University of Oklahoma students have discovered a way to use weather radar to track bird migrations. Kyle Horton is a biology student and Phillip Stepanian is studying meteorology and electrical engineering. They recently found a way learn how birds migrate using the country’s weather radar network. Below the pics is a news release from OU. I think this is a fantastic way to use an already existing system (the weather radar network) for an entirely different field than it was built.

Phillip M. Stepanian- Doctoral student in Meteorology and Electrical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma

   Phillip M. Stepanian- Doctoral student in Meteorology and Electrical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma

Kyle G. Horton- Doctoral student in Biology at the University of Oklahoma

Kyle G. Horton- Doctoral student in Biology at the University of Oklahoma

OU Students Use Nation’s Weather Radar Network to Track Bird Migration at Night

Norman, Okla.—Using the nation’s weather radar network, two University of Oklahoma doctoral students have developed a technique for forecasting something other than the weather: the orientation behavior of birds as they migrate through the atmosphere at night.  The students have discovered a way to use the latest dual-polarization radar upgrade to measure broad-scale flight orientation of nocturnal migrant birds—a promising development for biologists and bird enthusiasts.

The approach to the problem paired Phillip M. Stepanian, a meteorology and electrical engineering student, and Kyle G. Horton, a biology student, on the study that demonstrates how the upgraded national weather radar network contributed to the understanding of animal flight orientation behavior at a large spatial scale. Stepanian and Horton may be the first to develop a practical application of polarimetric radar data for tracking migrant birds during nighttime flight.

“This is an important advance because we can now measure how migrants compensate for wind speed and direction to achieve a particular migration track direction; essentially extracting a large-scale measure of bird behavior.  We are already involved in several follow-on studies that look at the behavioral variation in flight orientation at large spatial scales,” says Jeffrey F. Kelly, Oklahoma Biological Survey.

Horton, who is interested in bird strategies and orientation as they migrate from one place to another at night, will use the methodology to track migrant birds on the east coast and weather events that may disrupt flight patterns of the birds.  Stepanian is interested in the method for collecting the data using the nation’s upgraded weather radar network.  He wants to apply measurements to bird migration in ways not done before, which is a new application of the radar.

The ability to forecast migrant bird patterns will provide biologists and birders with an important tool for tracking nighttime flight of migrants.  Horton hopes to answer some big biological questions with this methodology, while Stepanian values the importance of the radar in tracking migrants and applying the data in new and innovative ways.

An article on this study has been published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering’s Geoscience and Remote Sensing online early edition.  The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded this research project.