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University of Wisconsin–Madison

UW–Madison Drone Use Policy

The UW–Madison drone use policy will help researchers and instructors on campus meet the Federal Aviation Association’s rules for flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – better known as aerial drones – while also helping to protect privacy.

The policy, “University of Wisconsin – Madison Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Policy,” encourages safe and lawful use of drones for research and instructional use. The policy provides a drone-use approval process and replaces a previous campus policy that prohibited students, staff or outside entities to operate unmanned aircraft/drones on the UW–Madison campus, interiors or exteriors. The policy allows for some drone use for research and teaching, and is a joint effort of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration.

This policy applies to drone operations in both indoor and exterior spaces and in connection with UW–Madison activities whether occurring within the United States or internationally. The policy does not apply to drone operations by the University of Wisconsin Police Department or other first responder operations conducted in accordance with applicable law.

For safety and privacy reasons, drone operations by students, employees or visitors for recreational or hobbyist purposes are still not permitted on UW–Madison premises. Drone operations by registered student organizations and by students in connection with UW–Madison coursework, are eligible to be considered for approval under this policy as instructional uses.