Eye in the Sky


For the second year in a row, a team of University of Rhode Island engineering students has won first place in the University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs, sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Krista Brouwer ’15 of Middletown, R.I., Thomas Cottam ’15 of Scituate, R.I., Catherine LiVolsi ’15 of Peace Dale, R.I., and Stephen Pratt ’15 of Coventry, R.I. invented a drone detection and tracking system to address the problem of drones colliding with aircraft after entering the no-fly zones around airports. Using radio frequency identification tags, the students created a solar-powered system that they call Eye in the Sky. It not only alerts airport officials about approaching drones so pilots can be informed, but it also warns drone operators when their vehicles enter no-fly zones.

“Because this is such a very new issue, there really aren’t any other ways that have yet been developed to address this growing problem,” says LiVolsi, who recently started a job at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. “So at the moment our project is one of the only methods to assist the FAA.”

The URI students who won the FAA competition last year invented a collision avoidance system for planes on the ground at airports.