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Saturday, December 02, 2023
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UB home to new drone testing facility

SOAR will advance drone research for national security, parcel delivery applications

<p>The 24,000-square-foot netted enclosure will be used to research uncrewed aerial vehicles</p>

The 24,000-square-foot netted enclosure will be used to research uncrewed aerial vehicles

Something big and blue just came to North Campus. 

And no, it’s not the Big Blue food truck. 

The Structure for Outdoor Autonomy Research is a massive 24,000-square-foot netted enclosure composed of 14 big, blue beams, located next to Crofts Hall. 

UB students, faculty and partners will use the facility to research uncrewed aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones. 

The structure, which measures 120 feet by 200 feet and 86 feet tall, "is believed to be the third-largest outdoor, enclosed drone-testing facility in the nation,” according to UBNow. 

The facility will host research in the following fields:

  • Autonomous technology, like self-driving drones
  • Surveillance and sensors
  • Small package delivery 
  • Drone fleets 

SOAR loosely qualifies as an indoor facility — a classification that allows researchers to circumvent Federal Aviation Administration restrictions and regulations when conducting flight tests. 

Chase Murray, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, won a $393,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research’s Defense University Research Instrumentation Program for the facility’s construction, which will support his work in the field of UAV routing and logistics.

UB will also grant permission for Western New York companies interested in testing drone hardware to use the facility. 

Elizabeth Napolitano is the senior news editor and can be reached at and on Twitter @LizKNapolitano


Elizabeth "Liz" Napolitano is the senior news editor for The Spectrum. She's an optimistic pessimist who found her love for journalism in Ecuador. She likes late night walks and reading Twitter threads in their entirety. 



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