Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe operates unmanned systems in three domains



During a technology demonstration at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MARUAS) Airfield at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in coastal Virginia, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe operated unmanned systems in three domains—air, land, and sea.

The demonstration showcased how unmanned systems are being used by scientists to study the effects of major storms and sea-level rise on barrier-island dynamics, in an effort to form policies for coastal resilience.

“By combining unmanned systems across all three domains we are collecting data that will provide greater insight into our coastline, demonstrating the transformative nature of these technologies, and highlighting the capabilities of this uniquely situated facility at Wallops,” Governor McAuliffe says.

“By leaning forward on emerging these emerging technologies, we can bring enormous benefits to our economy and our environment.”

William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and Randolph-Macon College worked with the University of Delaware to perform the preliminary coastal-resilience study.

The work conducted serves as a pilot study for a “larger, more comprehensive investigation” of the coastal zone of Assateague, Chincoteague, and Wallops islands, which was previously known as the Integrated Barrier Island Systems (IBIS) project.

“Technologies such as aerial drones, ground-penetrating radar, and autonomous underwater vehicles can help us unravel the past and present dynamics of our coastal zone so we can better predict its future response to storms and sea-level rise,” says VIMS Dean and Director John Wells.

“That knowledge provides a valuable decision-making tool for increasing coastal resiliency in Virginia and around the nation and world.”

The coastal study is being conducted under the auspices of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Resilience Institute (MACRI). Founded back in 2014, MACRI is a “multi-state, multi-disciplinary partnership dedicated to integrated climate-change research.”

The goal of MACRI is to use scaled science and research to inform public policy, in an effort to help local and regional leaders make coastal habitats more resilient.

The Assateague-Chincoteague-Wallops islands system was chosen for the first major MACRI study because it is one of the most dynamic systems on the East Coast of the United States.