University of Wisconsin Drone Documents

Drone Watch filed this request with the University of Wisconsin of Wisconsin.


From: Drone Watch

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Wisconsin's Open Records act, I hereby request the following records:

1. any requests for proposals, proposals submitted by vendors, contracts, budgets or cost allocations for the purchase, research of and/or use of aerial drones, UAs, UAVs, and UASs (hereinafter “drones”);

2. any policies, guidelines, manuals and/or instructions on use of drones, including on the legal process required (such as a warrant or court order), if any, before operating a drone;

3. any departmental records concerning use of drones now or plans to use drones in the future including:

a. the types of investigations or instances in which this institution is using or plans to use drones, or how it plans to support, manage or oversee the usage of drones by another department or office;

b. policies, guidelines, manuals and/or instructions on storage requirements or procedures for video or static images obtained through use of drones, including retention times;

c. the altitude at which drones can or do fly;

d. drones’ ability to carry weapons.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I would request your response within ten (10) business days.


Shawn Musgrave

From: Amy Toburen

Dear Mr. Musgrave -- This is to acknowledge receipt of your records request. Your request is overly broad which makes it difficult to fulfill. If you could focus your request with specific departments you are interested in, and a range of dates -- August 2011-October 2012 for example -- that would be great help.

Thanks. -- Amy

From: Shawn Musgrave

Ms. Toburen:

Thank you for your response. Please process this request with respect to records from January 1, 2008 to the date this request is processed.

With regard to particular departments, MuckRock seeks documents related to the University's application to the Federal Aviation Administration to operate drones/UAV/UAS units in domestic airspace. Please process our original request (copied below) with respect to this application to the FAA.

Please let me know if MuckRock can clarify this request further.


Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock News

From: Lisa Hull

Mr. Musgrave,

We are in receipt of your request regarding information pertaining to
drones at the University of Wisconsin. I have reached out to our Space
Science and Engineering Center and they respond that they have not filed
an application for a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA. Could
you provide us with more specific information about that so we may
respond to your request?

This department also responds that we have not applied to the FAA to
operate drones/UAV/UAS units. We did participate in a NASA sponsored
weather research experiment in which we flew one of our instruments on a
NASA operated UAV as part of the HS3 program (severe storm program). We
did not operate the drone.

Here is a link that might be of interest to you, that describes the work
UW-Madison SSEC has done:

Please let me know if you can provide more information about the
certificate of authorization. It might have been for a different campus.

Lisa Hull

From: Drone Watch

Ms. Hull,

Some more research indicates that the University of Wisconsin, Madison applied to the FAA in 2007 for authorization to fly a drone. The authorization was valid from Feb 2007 to Feb 2008.

The application was submitted by Steven Loheide, and indicated that the UAS was to be used "to obtain low altitude images of a river restoration project" at "two remote and sparsely populated areas in Wisconsin, including a river restoration site owned by the Nature Conservancy near Barneveld, WI and the Allequash Wetlands near Minocqua, WI."

Please let me know if I can provide any further information to assist with this request.

Shawn Musgrave

From: Lisa Hull

Mr. Musgrave,

Can you clarify what you are specifically looking for with this request?

From: Drone Watch

Ms. Hull:

I am seeking any contracts or invoices related to the project for which UW applied for FAA UAV authorization.

Shawn Musgrave

From: Lisa Hull

Mr. Musgrave,

There are no contracts or invoices associated with this research
project. I am, however, attaching the final report for the project for
which this researcher obtained the FAA permission. Unless I hear from
you in the next few days with additional questions, I shall consider
this inquiry responded to and closed.