Overseas and overhead: Nevada's drones fly high

RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The future of the Nevada drone program has officially taken flight.

Last month, Business Director of the University Of Nevada, Reno's Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, Warren Rapp, joined professors from various UNR programs on a trip to Mongolia.

"There was extreme excitement," says Rapp. "You couldn't have picked a nicer, more beautiful place to fly your UAV."

The program is ten years running, but this is the first time drones and the NAASIC Center are being incorporated.

"That's a whole game changer," says Hydrology Professor Scott Tyler with the Geology department. "You can now start to measure things with really high frequency and really high resolution."

Tyler and Rapp left Reno for Mongolia in late September to continue a decade long study of the worlds largest fresh water trout in Mongolia's Egg River.

In the past, researchers and scientists have monitored the fish by catching them, documenting the trout and tagging them for future evaluation.

This year, Nevada drones captured video above the river, showing not only how many fish exist, but their traits and lifestyles too.

For years, UNR Associate Professor of Limnology Sudeep Chandra has been comparing rivers and lakes from across the world with bodies of water in the Sierra, including the Egg River and the trout living within.

"By studying these systems that are not heavily impacted, perhaps we can use that information to restore the Truckee or Carson River," says Chandra.

New Federal Aviation Administration regulations allow UNR to use their drones over the Truckee River.

"Working in other countries can bring information back here," says Chandra. "Also, the technologies we develop here at the University of Nevada can help other countries conserve other resources."

Rapp says he's excited to take this practice to the Truckee River and study the largest local trout, the Lahontan Cutthroat spawning from Pyramid Lake.

"There is obviously going to be some publications that come from this and the sky is the limit on where we can take this," says Rapp. "Not just within Nevada, but across the globe."

Reporter Ryan Kern takes us up in the air and overseas this November on News 4.

TALK TO RYAN about his story on his Facebook page or Twitter.
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