Mississippi State Launches Disaster Relief Drones

(photo by Beth Wynn / © Mississippi State University)

Mississippi State University is flying high for two reasons.

1 . The men’s basketball team is looking to make a tough showing tonight against the SEC-leading Tennessee Vols.*

2. The school’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory has acquired two TigerShark XP3 drones.

Built by NAVMAR Applied Sciences Corporation, the drones cost about $2 million and MSU obtained federal research grants to cover most of the cost.

The TigerShark is designed for reconnaissance and surveillance missions. It has a wingspan of 22 feet, weighs 500 pounds, has a payload capacity of 100 pounds, and a flight duration of 10 hours.

Lab Director Dallas Brooks says the drone system will “allow our team to carry more equipment, fly at higher altitudes and for a longer period of time, which increases our ability to meet the needs of our federal research partners, as well as to directly support Mississippians in times of emergency.”

“Our previous aircraft were good for three to four hours in the air of uninterrupted flight. These TigerSharks are capable of sustained flight for 8-12 hours without refueling. When we’re doing work like disaster relief support, those hours become critical. Every minute in the air is a minute you might be able to find someone that needs medical assistance or evacuation.”

The school works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to study the best ways to deploy drones for disaster response. The research center also works with local agencies across the Mississippi Delta to support civic and public safety missions as well as agricultural and environmental work.

“Our partnership with MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute supports UAS-based research that monitors crop health, monitors trends and looks at broad areas of crop distress and potential causes,” Brooks said. “It can also look at changes to the environment, things like beach erosion and infestation of invasive species. So much that we do here is focused on the core needs of Mississippi and that is where we are at our best.

*Note: This reporter is a native of Knoxville, Tenn. – GO VOLS! Sorry, MSU!


Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.

Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.

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