SCE Drone wind test in Swinney with Travis Fields

UMKC receives largest non-health research funding

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research has awarded a $7.2 million grant and a $7.7 million contract to UMKC to develop technologies to reduce national security threats from drones.

These are the largest non-health research awards received at UMKC. The team of investigators also includes researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri, in collaboration with several other organizations. Researchers will focus on advancing high-power microwave electronic countermeasure technologies.

Drone threats range from intelligence gathering, to delivery of a weaponized payload, to being caught in the air intake of a jet engine.

The threat from drones, whether intentional or unintentional, is disproportionate in cost and complexity compared to the damage they can cause. For example, a few-hundred-dollar drone could destroy a billion-dollar stealth bomber.

Currently, no cost-effective protection from this potentially devastating threat exists.

“Our team of faculty and students are developing counter-technologies to eliminate threatening drones safely, including new ways to assess, predict and defend,” says Tony Caruso, UMKC associate vice chancellor of research and physics, electrical engineering professor and lead investigator on the grant.

The goal of the efforts is to evaluate and demonstrate the capability of those counter-technologies developed through the grant award. The grant will also fund 10 new Ph.D. students and positions for 12 undergraduate researchers.

Fields’ drone research was previously featured in Explore, Vol. 4.