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Lab to Deploy Drones for Data Collection


The Duke Marine Lab is taking to the skies to study marine ecology and endangered species. After receiving Federal Aviation Administration approval Friday, the recently-opened Marine Conservation Ecology Unmanned Systems Facility aims to use unmanned aerial vehicle technology—or drones—to gather data more efficiently than ever before.

With the approval, the laboratory can now pilot drones stateside in addition to its already-sponsored missions abroad. The Beaufort, N.C., facility flew operational missions in August along with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Costa Rica to track the nesting patterns of endangered sea turtles.

“We’re interested in using these systems to go out and count animals, to study coastal habitats and obtain coastal imagery, to s...

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