News Archives: Unmanned Vehicle on its Way to GPRC Fairview Campus
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
The delivery this week of an unmanned vehicle system to GPRC Fairview Campus is an exciting step toward future research, development, and training programs in our region. Progress toward these goals has been rapid in recent months, and the arrival of the robotic equipment marks the change from planning to actualization.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in late 2010 established a partnership between the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (CCUVS), Peace Region Economic Development Alliance (PREDA) and Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) and recognizes their mutual interest in the future of Unmanned Vehicle Systems within the region.
"GPRC is very pleased to be a signatory to this MOU," says Don Gnatiuk, President and CEO. "This project has enormous potential for the advancement of research in the field of robotics, and we are alert to the numerous educational directions which this initiative opens for learners in our region."
In the weeks since the MOU was signed, a northwestern office of CCUVS has been established on GPRC Fairview campus, and project coordinator Lloyd Sherk has been busy laying the groundwork for subsequent phases of this initiative. Sherk is a mechanical engineer and former military pilot who is managing the unmanned vehicle systems project on behalf of the GPRC Centre for Research & Innovation (CRI).
"This partnership is a natural fit with the facilities of our Fairview campus," says Bruce Rutley, who is Director of the GPRC Centre for Research and Innovation. "The community of Fairview is equipped with an airport which is off commercial airspace, which means it is readily available for training and testing use, and the facilities of the GPRC campus in Fairview are well suited to any office or shop needs as the project progresses."
Test flights, test of ground vehicles, and the training of people for the growing needs of this industry, are among the goals of this project. Canada is a leader in the (non-military) unmanned vehicle industry in the world, and a high percentage of that activity is taking place in Alberta. CCUVS head office in Medicine Hat was officially opened in 2006, and has quickly established itself as a leader in the unmanned vehicle and robotics sector. The CCUVS approach is unique for its not-for-profit status and its affiliation with academia.
All of this activity is aimed at getting GPRC positioned so that it is ready when the time comes, Sherk says. He is enthusiastic about the potential for the future - and thrilled to be on the road to pick up the first (albeit older and well-used) unmanned air system to get this project truly "in the air" at Fairview Alberta.
(For more on the CCUVS project, see the archives of the Fairview Post for the series penned by Craig Baird: www.fairviewpost.com )