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Gorilla Netting Completes Construction of Massive Netted Drone Enclosure at University at Buffalo

The result is a massive 24,000-square-foot research facility, dubbed SOAR (Structure for Outdoor Autonomy Research)—the nation’s third-largest outdoor, enclosure drone-testing facility.

University at Buffalo consultants first approached Gorilla Netting in early 2019. For over a year, the team at Gorilla Netting worked with consultants and representatives of SUNY, University at Buffalo (UB), to design, engineer, and install a large netted drone enclosure system for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) testing and research.

The result is a massive 24,000-square-foot research facility, dubbed SOAR (Structure for Outdoor Autonomy Research)—The nation’s third-largest outdoor, enclosure drone-testing facility.

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The netted drone enclosure is 200 feet long by 120 feet wide and 86 feet high, slightly more than half an acre. Gorilla Netting designed and built the netting system using staged steel poles and a little over 79,000-square-feet of 4” knotted nylon netting. SOAR is located on the North Campus of University at Buffalo, adjacent to Crofts Hall.

“The University at Buffalo is committed to addressing society’s most challenging issues. By creating a research complex dedicated to exploring the tremendous potential of uncrewed aerial vehicles, UB researchers, students, and our partners will advance cutting-edge solutions that can help global food security challenges, disaster response, and anti-terrorism,” says Kemper Lewis, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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Because it is enclosed, and thus considered an indoor flight facility, researchers will not be subject to Federal Aviation Administration rules when testing UAVs. Researchers will use the facility to conduct research on:

  •     Autonomous technology. This involves UAVs, as well self-driving vehicles, which the university tests in the area outside the complex.
  •     Sensors and surveillance. This field has applications in agriculture, military, homeland security, law enforcement, wildfire monitoring, bridge and building inspections, and other areas.
  •     Small parcel delivery and logistics. This includes studying using drones to deliver goods.
  •     Drone fleets. UB researchers are exploring how drones can work together in emergency situations.

The facility will also be a resource for undergraduate and graduate students who study robotics and computer vision. Additionally, it will benefit Western New York companies interested in using the complex to test UAV hardware.

“Our plan is to leave the netting up year-round,” says Chase Murray, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering. “This will enable us to conduct tests and improve the performance of UAVs in the often-harsh winter weather conditions that we encounter.”

“Many private companies and universities across the country have benefited from Netted Drone Enclosure Systems, and other organizations are moving forward with innovative netting systems. Gorilla Netting was pleased to work with the University at Buffalo to provide them with a unique netting system. The finished product is sure to impress anyone who passes by and sees it.” says Dolvin Todd, President of Gorilla Netting LLC.

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