ELYRIA, Ohio - They're not the toy version multi-copters you can buy at your corner tech store, but true unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones.
Thanks to a grant from NASA, Lorain County Community College math and science students are building and testing drones from the ground up.
The aerospace technology class is drawing a lot of interest.
"The students build the motors, rotors, blades and GPS systems, and I'm anticipating the next class will be the largest we've ever had," said LCCC professor Matt Mishak.
Recreational drones, equipped with video cameras that record video and infrared technology can be guided by GPS and are subject to FAA regulations.
While some groups are raising privacy concerns, Mishak sees the drones’ potential for saving lives, from making inspections of roofs, smoke stacks, wind turbines safer, or search and rescue
"One idea in the future is to possibly have them off Lake Erie and if somebody who is drowning or in need of rescue, you could give them a life preserver or identify boat wrecks on the lake with the drones," Mishak said,
Mishak, who owns Dronewerx, is also developing tougher, more sophisticated drones.
Mishak said northeast Ohio has the science, technology and manufacturing base to create jobs making drones and finding creative uses.
"The more I get involved in unmanned systems, the more I realize this area is poised to take advantage of this new technology," Mishak said,
While the FAA restricts these types of aircrafts’ range and distance to line of sight, the computer technology exists to send the aircrafts up to 5 miles away and back.
More law enforcement agencies are looking into potential uses for the devices, especially when it comes to searching for a missing child in the woods, for example.
The smaller consumer drones have a flight time of about 25 minutes before the battery drains.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Lorain Co. Headlines
Former Cleveland Brown lineman Al "Bubba" Baker pitched his successfully patented process to remove the bone from ribs, trademarked D-Boned, on ABC's Shark Tank. The taped segment will air Friday, Dec. 6 at 9 p.m.
A former Elyria day care worker accused of raping two infants was indicted on 12 counts of kidnapping and four counts of rape Thursday.