UAV Training Center on Montana Tech Campus

UAV Training Center on Montana Tech Campus


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle MapMontana Tech, the Montana Bureau of Mines & Geology (MBMG), and Butte-Silver Bow (BSB) have teamed up to develop the only Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) training and research area in the state of Montana. In 2018, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was developed between BSB, the MBMG, and Montana Tech to create a UAV training and research area that encompasses the Montana Tech campus and BSB’s Big Butte open space park (fig. 1). The objective of developing this research area was to provide BSB and MBMG staff, and Montana Tech researchers and students, with a safe, undeveloped location to conduct supervised training and research using UAVs.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle WebResearchers at MBMG and Montana Tech have been developing custom UAV sensors for mineral exploration, precision mapping, hazardous gas detection, underground mapping, unexploded ordnance detection, and natural hazard detection (subsidence, faults, landslides, etc.), as well as specialized software for collision avoidance, object detection, and real-time mapping. This research involves multiple departments at Montana Tech, including Geophysical, Geological, Petroleum, and Electrical Engineering; Computer Science; Biological Sciences; and Technical Communication. Although there are a few UAV research and training areas established in the United States, this is the first developed UAV research area in Montana. “It is expected that this UAV research area and associated research developments will result in the establishment of multiple startup businesses and public–private partnerships that will result in significant economic development opportunities in Butte–Silver Bow County,” noted Jeremy Crowley, Assistant Research Hydrogeologist with the MBMG. “This new UAV training area is a great collaboration between Montana Tech, the MBMG, and Butte–Silver Bow. Montana Tech Chancellor Don Blackketter, along with Bev Hartline, Vice Chancellor of Research; Jon Metesh, director of the MBMG; JP Gallagher, BSB director of Parks and Recreation; the BSB County Commissioners; and Dave Palmer, BSB Chief Executive, were instrumental in designing the memorandum of agreement that established the training area. Many researchers and students at Montana Tech have been performing cutting-edge drone and sensor research, and this new training area allows us to push the technology further.”

For more information, please contact Jeremy Crowley at 406-496-4772.

Figure 1. The red outline is the UAV training and research area which covers approximately 500 acres. The research area includes the Montana Tech Campus, the World Museum of Mining and the Butte Silver Bow Big Butte Open Space Park.