About the Cluster

 The DRONES research cluster represents a major interdisciplinary collaborative effort focusing on research, education, and technology transfer at the University's FedEx Institute of Technology. DRONES comprises a consortium of experts in robotics, autonomous vehicles, and drones, who provide proactive leadership and cohesion to the region's interests in these state-of-the-art challenges. Private corporations based in Tennessee and state government agencies join together to tackle public policy questions and to find ways to incorporate these exciting new technologies in the industrial ventures that drive the state's economic growth.

The FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis is positioned and is highly motivated to serve as a development and coordination engine in support of local industry's efforts to utilize the latest technologies in support of their businesses.

DRONES' three major areas of technology: robotics, autonomous vehicles, and drones, represent three high-technology mobile platforms (although many industrial robots are stationary) that are generating intense current industrial interest. Mobile robots range from experimental humanoid robots to independently operating vacuum cleaners. Autonomous vehicles include driverless automobiles on our public roadways, vehicles that follow wires embedded in roads, and automated mail delivery vehicles in office buildings. Drones range from military aircraft that carry missiles to inexpensive hobbyist toys. Industrial applications for drones have been suggested that range from package delivery to monitoring agricultural fields. Furthermore, there is broad overlap in the technologies involved in these three types of mobile platforms including machine vision, sensors, object recognition, object avoidance, and the processing of "big data" collected by them. The DRONES Cluster takes a broad view of these issues surrounding these mobile platform technologies. In addition to the engineering and computer science aspects, it focuses on such issues regarding them as financial implications, risk, public relations, and legal ramifications.