Duke Marine Lab to open facility for drone use

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The Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort is getting ready to open a new facility that will be home to new drone and unmanned aerial vehicle courses.

Researchers at the lab have been using drones to map sea turtles and gray seals in Canada and Costa Rica, as well as mapping marine debris and plastics in the water, while they work on getting the proper licensing and permits to operate drones here in the U.S.

Lead engineer Julian Dale says, "We have filed for an exemption to allow us to fly these as a commercial entity."

And a new facility at the marine lab will teach courses and provide training for drones in the use of marine research.

Dale says, "The course will be part flying, looking at what FAA regulations and federal regulations are in place so people can make sure they have all of the proper permitting and things to go out and all of the other considerations they need to do in terms of actually flying the aircraft."

The new facility will not only allow them to fly for private and public research missions, they are also going to start an outreach program for local high school students.

Duke researchers have been talking with teachers at West Carteret High School to implement a program that will teach students how to build and work on drones.