AEOLUS Soars with Eighteenth Mile TRIF Funding

Jan. 18, 2024

In a significant lift towards advancing research, the Airborne Environmental Observatory and Laboratory for Uncrewed Systems (AEOLUS) project, led by PI Dr. Tyson L. Swetnam and Co-PI Dr. Jeffrey K. Gillan, has been awarded Eighteenth Mile Funding Program funds for FY 2024. The $141,000 grant, part of the UArizona Office for Research, Innovation, and Impact and the Innovative Technologies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution TRIF Fund, will help propel the AEOLUS project to new heights. AEOLUS’s goal is to leverage cyberinfrastructure for improved data management for data-intensive research using drones and uncrewed aircraft.

The award will help in fostering collaborations with institutions such as the University of Alaska Fairbanks, federal agencies like the US Geological Survey, and research networks including the National Ecological Observatory Network. Dr. Swetnam, Director of Open Science at UArizona Institute for Computation and Data-Enabled Insight (ICDI) and Dr. Gillan, Research Data Scientist at CyVerse and the UArizona Data Science Institute are gearing up to travel to Fairbanks, AK in late January 2024, where they will engage with the Alaska Center for UAS Integration team at the University of Alaska.

A portion of the grant will be allocated to the purchase of a state-of-the-science multi-rotor Unmanned Aircraft System equipped with LiDAR and thermal sensors. This acquisition is expected to elevate the AEOLUS project's capabilities in collecting precise environmental data, contributing to the advancement of uncrewed systems research.

Looking ahead, Drs. Swetnam and Gillan have exciting plans for a 'Drone Summit' scheduled for March 2024. Drone researchers from across the nation will convene at the Biosphere 2 in Tucson, AZ, to engage in discussions on drone data management. This summit will also serve as a platform to explore collaborative opportunities and determine other drone-based grant proposal opportunities.

The Eighteenth Mile Funding Program, designed to provide critical support to developed yet unfunded projects, demonstrates the University of Arizona's commitment to advancing innovation within the focus areas of the TRIF initiative in Innovative Technologies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

As AEOLUS takes flight, the project is set to make impactful contributions to the intersection of technology, research, and environmental science.