In order to promote use of drones in agriculture and forestry, a team from the NPUST Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Applications R&D and the Department of Forestry have been provided training, science camps, and professional courses related to large and small drone operations since the center was established in 2020.
Assistant Professor Chun-Hung Wei of the Department of Forestry is the leader of the comprehensive application group at the Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Applications. In this capacity, he provides guidance to teachers and students working to obtain professional remote-controlled drone operating certificates.
Drone applications are increasing year by year, and since the Yunlin Formosa Airfield has been the only airfield in Taiwan where unmanned aircraft (fixed-wing) tests were permitted, the space has become quite crowded, and safety concerns have been raised. As a result, Assistant professor Chun-Hung Wei and other concerned parties sought assistance from the Pingtung County Government, with hopes of opening an unmanned fixed-wing aircraft testing area at the Zhutian Airfield in Pingtung. To accommodate with demand, on January 11, 2024, the Pingtung County Government and the Civil Aviation Administration offered a professional remote control drone operation certificate for unmanned aircraft level “Ia” and below for teachers and students of NPUST.
Assistant Professor Chun-Hung Wei pointed out that “National Pingtung University of Science and Technology has 40~50 years of experience in remote aerial surveying. The operation of drones in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and animal husbandry is a trend that will continue in the future. Our courses allow students to understand drone applications, and our work is helping with the future development of national UAV teams. By obtaining relevant certificates and licenses before graduation, students will be better equipped to find employment and give full play to the knowledge they have learned.”
NPUST’s drone courses are divided into “classroom teaching” and “outdoor operations”. Students are provided with basic knowledge on domestic drones, relevant regulations, applications, and practical operations. The university also invites lecturers from the industrial sector to share on practical applications for remote controlled drones. Looking forward to the future, drones and other AI dependent technologies are expected to find increased levels of adoption in agriculture, forestry, fishery and animal husbandry and other industries which are experiencing labor shortage problem. Recognizing this, NPUST has been pro-actively working to equip its students with the skills they need to be leaders in these areas in the years ahead.