Students show off ‘autonomous vehicles’ at L.A. Drone Expo

UC Berkeley engineering students joined civil engineering professor Raja Sengupta at the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles on Saturday, demonstrating their “unmanned autonomous vehicles” to a crowd of some 4,000 hobbyists and enthusiasts.

student explains drones

Berkeley graduate student Aislan Foina (in cap) discusses drones with attendees at the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles. UC Berkeley was the only university invited to exhibit. (Michelle Moskowitz photo)

Sengupta, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, also delivered a keynote talk at the expo. He is co-lead with the University of Maryland, in partnership with the Tesla Foundation Group, on a bid to the Federal Aviation Administration to create a Center of Excellence to explore how to integrate drones into traditional airspace. The FAA intends to support the center over 5 years with minimum funding of $500,000 per year, with universities required to match federal grants, dollar for dollar, from nonfederal sources.

Should the Berkeley/Tesla consortium win the bid, it will utilize and innovate the next level of information technology and sensor technology to create the registration, tracking, data acquisition and regulatory standards for operations of UAVs in American airspace for all commercial and civilian use and the integration of all airspace vehicles.

Michelle Moskowitz, director of Advocacy and Institutional Relations in the campus’s Office of Government and Community Relations, also moderated a panel on “Drones, Innovation and Public Policy” with Louis Stewart from the California governor’s office and other experts.

For more on the Drone Expo and a brief interview with Sengupta, link to this Reuters video.