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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Research Vehicle Safety Oversight (Autonomous Vehicles)

(Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

UW–Madison encourages safe and lawful use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones)  for research and instructional use. The UW–Madison Research Vehicle Safety Oversight (RVSO) Policy helps researchers and instructors meet the Federal Aviation Association’s rules for flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – better known as aerial drones – while also helping to protect privacy.

UW faculty, staff, students, contractors and affiliates seeking to operate autonomous vehicles, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and ultralight aircraft, for UW-related education, research and non-academic purposes must submit pilot and flight applications in ARROW to the Research Vehicle Safety Oversight Committee for review no less than thirty (30) days in advance of the first proposed flight date. This policy applies to operations in both indoor and exterior spaces and in connection with UW–Madison activities whether occurring within the United States or internationally.

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.

 

University of Wisconsin–Madison Research Vehicle Safety Oversight Policy

UW–Madison does not allow UW faculty, staff, students, or contractors to use autonomous vehicles on UW premises or in connection with UW activities without approval. UW–Madison defines autonomous vehicles to include unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and ultralight aircraft. For UW-related education, research and non-academic purposes, individuals must submit applications for pilot and flight approval to the Research Vehicle Safety Oversight Committee for review no less than thirty (30) days in advance of the first proposed flight date. UAS operations by students, employees or visitors for recreational or hobbyist purposes are not permitted on UW premises under this Policy. Once approved as a pilot by the UW to operate UAS or ultralight, individuals must also apply for approval of each flight. All autonomous vehicles operated on UW premises or in connection with UW-related activities must be operated by an individual who has the requisite certifications and experience necessary to conduct the research vehicle operation lawfully and safely.

This Policy applies to the operation of autonomous vehicles by faculty, staff and students in connection with instructional, research, outreach and other institutional uses on or off campus, as well as all uses of UAS or ultralight aircraft by any person or organization on or in any lands or facilities owned by, leased by, or otherwise under the control of the UW. This Policy includes autonomous vehicle operations in both indoor and exterior spaces and to autonomous vehicle operations in connection with UW activities whether occurring within the United States or internationally. This Policy does not apply to UAS operations by the University of Wisconsin Police Department or other first responder operations conducted in accordance with applicable law

UAS operations by registered student organizations and/or by students in connection with UW coursework, are eligible to be considered for approval under this Policy as instructional uses. UAS operations by third parties for marketing/promotional purposes are not permitted under this policy and should be directed to University Marketing. Contractors seeking approval must submit the Planning, Design, or Construction Contractor Request for Authorization to Operate UAS on UW Lands to Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture.

Recreational or hobbyist unmanned aircraft operations by students, employees or visitors are not permitted on UW–Madison premises.  The University also adheres to FAA regulations and does not allow the following without waivers:

  • Flight(s) over people
  • Flight(s) beyond the line of sight
  • Flight(s) at night
  • Flight(s) above 400'
  • Flight(s) in controlled airspace (requires authorization)

 

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.

Pilot and flight applications for research and instructional use of drones should submitted through ARROW.

If you are flying within five miles of a hospital heliport, you can fly an unmanned aircraft only if it is safe to do so.  As a pilot, you must:

  • Notify the operator of the heliport and resolve any safety concerns
  • Not interfere with manned aircraft
  • See and Avoid manned aircraft at all times