Downtown Update: UAS Testing in Downtown - Marina Arts District in Corpus Christi, TX

Jul 23, 2019

By: Alexandra Scott

Our latest ‘Downtown Update’ is here to give you a little heads up on a unique set of events that will be taking place in Downtown Corpus Christi over the next couple weeks.

NASA (yes, that NASA) is getting one step closer to making ‘the Jetsons’ a reality and they’re starting off by testing some vehicles in Downtown Corpus Christi starting this week.

Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation is partnering with NASA to run a series of tests, or ‘scenarios’, in Corpus Christi. “LSUASC is a Texas-wide partnership for research, development, testing, and evaluation of UAS technologies led by educational institutions Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas Engineering Experiment Station, and the Lead Systems Integrator, Camber Corporation bringing UAS to America’s skies,” according to their website.

So, all of this means what?

It means that from July 25 – 31 and August 12-23, you’ll see drones flying over Corpus Christi.

Why are drones flying in Corpus Christi?

Research of course! As we all know, drones are becoming more and more commonplace today and companies like Amazon have even said they’ll be using them for deliveries in the future. These tests will study what the future of air traffic looks like in hopes of finding a way to manage the increasing number of drones in the sky.

Corpus Christi is one of seven UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) testing sites and we offer the perfect place to study an urban environment without dealing with enormous congestion. NASA refers to this environment as the “urban canyon”.

LSUASC has been working on these demonstrations for months and partnered with the city and police department to limit the disruption to the public. “Each scenario is carefully scripted, minute by minute, to demonstrate and test specific challenges,” states a briefing presented to the DMD Board last week.

What can you expect to see during these scenarios?

The ‘drones’ that will be used for these tests are not the small noisy ones you see your friends playing with. They are around three feet in diameter and weigh between forty and fifty pounds, the pictures below are from the LSUASC website. While in flight, they will be between heights of 100 and 400 feet.

LSUASC says they won’t be blocking streets but will be stalling traffic while the UAVs are moving along city blocks because they are not allowed to fly them over people. You can expect to see the five scenarios in areas such as the SEA District, Cole Park, McGee Beach/Water’s Edge Park and the areas between Uptown and Marina Arts District.

The tests will never take place on weekends and will not inconvenience areas two days in a row. They will take place between the hours of 10 am and 2 to 3:30 pm on the specified days.

We are excited to see Downtown Corpus Christi playing an integral role in the future. This changing technology has the potential for a great impact on all our lives!

Even though you cannot be directly under the drones when they are flying, feel free to watch the tests and chat with some of the operators; they are coming in from all over Texas and the country. And tell them your favorite places in downtown!