First-Ever Embry-Riddle sUAS Consumer Guide Available for Novice Pilots

Learning how to fly a small unmanned aircraft (drone) to manage your business has now become easy with a new, comprehensive consumer guide.

Image Credit: Maria Dryfhout |

Researchers at the Worldwide Campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have now developed the first-ever complete guide to small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for beginners, who are interested in buying their first autonomous or remote-controlled multi-rotor flying aircraft.

Professors and experts in the UAS profession at Embry-Riddle Worldwide partnered with the undergraduate teams from the Worldwide and Daytona Beach Campus to perform a number of qualitative and quantitative measurements separately on 12 existing sUAS platforms. The tested aircrafts cost below $3,500, included electric motors with detachable batteries, weighed below 7.5 pounds with payload, and could hold or had in-built cameras.

The new Embry-Riddle sUAS Consumer Guide can be useful, not only to beginners, but also to different users who can assess the various choices available for purchase based on their level of experience and skill and at the same time can learn key measurements to make comparison when buying a sUAS in the future.

Our hope is that novices and experienced operators alike will use this free resource to examine critical features and capabilities inherent to the safe and responsible use of sUAS technology.

Dr. Brent Terwilliger, Worldwide Program Chair of the Masters of Science in Unmanned Systems degree, College of Aeronautics

Besides the final rankings and product reviews, the guide also presents a picture of relative and overall performance, cost, simple operation, quality of construction, user support as well as precision of advertised capability. The research team also created a comprehensive document named Operational Test Plan, which can be used to identify, record and assess critical safety as well as operational information of the testing process. This new document is also available to the public and would help novice operators in planning their activities.

The FAA has been strongly promoting responsible and safety operation, but that alone cannot make new sUAS pilots. Embry-Riddle is now offering educational information to novice operators through its new consumer guide and could help raise awareness, while connecting potential pilots to essential resources and aid, so that they can become more responsible, knowledgeable, and engaged members in the aviation community–a crucial aspect in public protection as all these aircrafts are incorporated into the National Airspace System (NAS).

We want new users to operate these aircraft safely and within the law. It's why we also offer programs like free online classes, UAS workshops and accessible sponsored research, plus actively promote industry public service campaigns like "Know Before You Fly.

Dr. Brent Terwilliger, Worldwide Program Chair of the Masters of Science in Unmanned Systems degree, College of Aeronautics

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