The US Army Engineering and Support Center is testing the new senseFly eBee X fixed-wing unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

The newly acquired system conducted its preliminary survey flight just outside the army engineering centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

The system will be used by the service to collect mapping data and high-resolution photography to support the centre’s more than 40 programmes and several missions conducted globally.

Huntsville Center Engineering Directorate Civil Structures Division chief Wade Doss said: “Our goal is to utilise it to make us more efficient in how we collect all types of engineering data, specifically surveying data and topographic data. We’ll be able to fly simple missions and produce 3D models.”

In addition, the commercial off-the-shelf model system can be employed to gather data from areas or environments that are deemed unsafe for humans.

The UAS is designed to cover larger areas in less amount of time.

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US Army Huntsville Center’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Site Development Branch research physical scientist Ryan Strange said: “If somebody wanted to detect [unexploded ordnance] or look at something when the zone was red hot, we can’t send a human in there because of safety issues.

“We can surely send a drone to look at something close up or monitor a specific project that’s going on at that time.

“We don’t have to put a human being somewhere where he or she shouldn’t be. If we wanted to access specific areas without human interaction, we can do that with the UAS.”

Furthermore, Strange noted that works are currently underway on obtaining pilot’s licence and approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The UAS will be officially put into use following the receipt of approvals and finalising processes.