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How can Nevada partner with you
on unmanned autonomous systems?

Since becoming a focal point for the institution’s research and innovation effort a little less than three years ago, the University of Nevada, Reno has experienced notable and milestone-realizing achievement. In partnership with the Australian-based drone delivery company, Flirtey, University researchers played an integral role in Flirtey’s history-making drone deliveries to rural and urban areas in 2015 and 2016. In addition, University researchers are developing new technologies in robotics, driverless cars and cyber security, all of which are intended to create intelligent systems capable of revolutionizing our interactions with the complexities of the real world.

Resources to share with our global partners

We have numerous world-renowned experts in the following:

  • Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, a nationally recognized center dedicated to partnering with industry to commercialize autonomous systems technology
  • Driverless cars
  • Underwater robotic development
  • Cybersecurity
  • Stationary robotics systems
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Human-Robot interaction
  • Remote sensors and sensor networks
  • Optical fiber sensors and communications
  • Advanced Manufacturing/3D Printing
  • Assistive technology and accessibility
Students working on a drone

Driverless Car Technologies

Scientists at the University are pioneering efforts to make driverless cars more accessible, safer and cost efficient. In fall 2015, the University’s driverless car drove 1,500 miles without hands – from the U.S. border at Nogales to Mexico City – the longest-ever autonomous drive in Mexico. With several terabytes of data describing the highways, and with specialized software, the onboard computer guided the car on city streets in Mexico City and highways through the Sonoran Desert.

Adaptive Robotic Devices

Researchers are developing hand-worn robotic devices that will help millions of blind and visually impaired people navigate past movable obstacles and assist in their ability to pre-locate, pre-sense and grasp an object. The miniaturized system will contribute to the lives of visually impaired people by enabling them to identify and move objects, both for navigational purposes or for more simple tasks such as grasping a door handle or picking up a glass.

Taking the World's Temperature

University researchers are using a novel distributed temperature-sensing system, which uses light-scattering as it passes through an optical fiber, in a variety of critical projects around the U.S. and the globe that require accurate and continuous temperature readings. The University is one of the few National Science Foundation CTEMPS instrument facilities in the country, and has provided invaluable temperatures of land, sea and air on all seven continents as the world faces an increasingly volatile global climate.

How Australia's Flirtey Winged
its way onto our campus...and made history

It was hailed in some quarters as a ‘Kitty Hawk moment’ for the drone industry. On July 17, 2015, the Australian-based drone company, Flirtey, became the first unmanned-autonomous vehicle company to complete a Federal Aviation Administration-approved delivery by drone. Then, on March 10, 2016, Flirtey completed the first federally-sanctioned drone delivery in a U.S. urban area.

The six-rotor drone now belongs to aviation history as part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, which displays the Space Shuttle Discovery, the SR-71 Blackbird and the first aircraft operated by FedEx. But for the University of Nevada, Reno, Flirtey’s Smithsonian-worthy moment was more than just history. It was a tangible milestone of a remarkable two-year partnership that has coupled the soaring vision of a young Australian drone company with the research engineering expertise and knowledge-based resources of one of America’s rising public universities.

What follows is the story of a relationship grounded in collaboration, belief and trust between Flirtey and the University, one that is indicative of a larger commitment by the state of Nevada to meld the potential of advanced technology with the possibilities of higher education.

Learn how the University of Nevada, Reno and Flirtey became partners.

How can Nevada partner with you
on hydrology & geology?

As the land-grant university for Nevada, America’s driest state, the University has developed globally-recognized expertise in hydrology, especially around water resource management, ecohydrology and drought issues management. As part of the iconic Mackay School of Earth Sciences & Engineering, our geological scientists collaborate with the Nevada Bureau of Mines & Geology, the Nevada Seismological Lab and Mining Engineering.

Professor Laurel Saito with student at river

Resources to share with our global partners

We have numerous world-renowned experts in the following:

  • Economic geology
  • Geological engineering
  • Hydrology & Hydrogeology
  • Seismology
  • Global climate change
  • Water resources management and engineering
  • Groundwater hydraulics
  • Watershed hydrology

Economic Geology

Research scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno work to understand the origins of hydrothermal ore deposits and develop methods to better mine deposits and explore for new ones.


Researchers in geothermal systems are driving the U.S. Department of Energy’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) project, which will widen the number of locations where geothermal power can be produced. This project has the potential to power 100 million homes in American with clean energy.

Mars Rover

Geophysics professor Wendy Calvin is the Science Operations Working Group Chair on a team that has been exploring the Martian landscape with the Rover Opportunity, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mission. Calvin’s work with Opportunity’s instrumentation through spectroscopy, which serves as the eyes for scientists on Earth, has helped map the surface of the barren planet’s rocky, dirt-covered terrain, and to produce global weather maps to record changes in the Mars climate.

How can Nevada partner with you
on Mining and Mining Engineering?

Miners working at mining locationMining is big in Nevada. Nevada is home to 110 active mines with 2,230 companies connected to those operations. The University of Nevada, Reno is home to the legendary Mackay School of Earth Science and Engineering (named after mining icon John Mackay of Comstock Lode fame) and the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, both of which are deep resources for industry, whose connections and expertise can be a boon to global mining interests.

The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology

The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno collects and disseminates research and information on Nevada’s mineral deposits to stimulate mineral exploration and development and help governmental agencies make informed decisions about public land use.

Mining Engineering Department has worldwide reach

The University’s Mining and Metallurgical Engineering Department has a nationally- recognized faculty whose research expertise is used commercially in the mining and metallurgical industries throughout the world. In mines systems and optimization, ventilation, rock mechanics, gold mining sampling and the development of novel robotic mining shovel approaches, the department consistently ranks among the top 10 of mining departments in the United States.

How Australia's Flirtey Winged
its way onto our campus...and made history

The partnership begins. In fall 2014, following several meetings between Flirtey co-founders Matt Sweeny and Tom Bass and the administration of the University, an agreement was reached for an R&D partnership between the Sydney-based startup and the state of Nevada’s oldest institution of higher education.

The University, which had taken a lead role in the state of Nevada’s efforts to cultivate an emerging industry in unmanned autonomous systems, agreed to an equity stake in Flirtey, one of the world’s rst unmanned aerial delivery companies. The partnership allowed Flirtey to use the University’s R&D labs for design, manufacture and research collaboration, as well as access to the campus’ indoor ight testing sites.

University researchers quickly leveraged the partnership with Flirtey to connect with federal grant-funding scientific agencies. In fall 2015, these researchers worked on a new, low-altitude traffic management system to keep fast-moving flyers safer as they cruise through increasingly crowded skies. The University was one of a handful of organizations selected to participate in a first phase of the NASA Ames Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management project to enable safer use of low-altitude airspace, of 500 feet and below.

Flirtey flew its drone delivery platforms through the test as University computer science and engineering researchers completed the difficult task of integrating software with the NASA system, considered a key step in realizing real-time development and testing of drone traffic-control systems. Successful mission flights were conducted at the Reno-Stead Airport in April 2016, part of a milestone event that included 24 unmanned aircraft at six sites across the country.

Find out how the University of Nevada, Reno and Flirtey are making history.

How can Nevada partner with you
on earthquake sciences & engineering?

The University of Nevada, Reno is home to America’s most advanced earthquake engineering laboratory, where, for 30 years, we’ve been doing research on large-scale structures to make buildings and bridges safer and more resilient, saving lives, infrastructure and money.

Engineer investigating a structural issue

Resources to share with our global partners

The University of Nevada, Reno has built a global reputation for its work in earthquake science, addressing the important issues of our time in civil engineering, seismology, and geology.

Civil Engineering. Our Earthquake Engineering Laboratory, which, combined with the adjacent Large-Scale Structures Laboratory, comprises the largest, most versatile large-scale structures earthquake/ seismic engineering facility in the U.S., according to National Institute of Standards and Technology, and is likely the largest University-based facility of its kind in the world.

Seismology. The Nevada Seismological Laboratory monitors, records and studies earthquakes across Nevada and the Sierra Nevada of eastern California. It serves as an information clearinghouse for that data for the USGS and other federal agencies.

Geology. Our Mackay School of Earth Sciences & Engineering’s Center for Neotectonic Studies looks at the motions of the Earth’s crust with the goals of understanding the physics of earthquake recurrence, the growth of mountains, and the seismic hazard embodied in these processes.

Geodesy. Our Nevada Geodetic Lab uses the science of geodesy to track the motion of the Earth’s crust using GPS. The lab has the largest data- processing center in the world and is used by the world’s scientists to track earthquake motions through plate tectonics.

Curved Bridge Project

As part of a Federal Highway Administration project investigating seismic resilience, our researchers tested the seismic effects of multi-span curved bridges using a 2/5 scale model of a three-span bridge. The model was 145 ft. long with an 80 ft. radius at the centerline and it rested on four shake tables. The results will inform future industry design codes to help structural engineers design curved bridges to withstand the effects of strong earthquakes.

Testing Nonstructural Systems

What happens to ceiling/piping/partition nonstructural systems during strong earthquakes? Our scientists built a 60-ft. x 42.5 ft. x 11.5 ft. building to find out — and identified the system-level and failure mechanisms of non-structural systems.

Geodesic Science

University scientists have developed high-precision GPS networks sensitive enough to detect minute vertical movements of the crust to reveal the effect of groundwater pumping in major aquifers and the subsequent rebound of the lithosphere of the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges that flank the Great Valley of California.

How can Nevada partner with you
on biomedical & neurosciences?

in the United States, two in three researchers work in business. The University of Nevada, Reno is creating a pipeline of researchers — and the potential for spin-off companies incubated here — through collaborative initiatives in Biomedical Science and Neuroscience. This has created new therapies, diagnostic tests, new biomedical corporations, and the most comprehensive effort in Nevada’s history to better understand the human brain.

Resources to share with our global partners

We have numerous world-renowned experts in the following:

  • Infectious disease diagnosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy treatments
  • Three NIH Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence in Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Smooth Muscles (the most allowed for a university campus in America)
  • Molecular and cellular mechanisms of the brain
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain
  • Neural development
  • Visual neuroscience
  • Memory neuroscience

Medical Biosciences

Two University of Nevada , Reno School of Medicine researchers launched a new biotechnology company, DxDiscovery, on our campus. The focus of DxDiscovery is the development of medical diagnostic tests for infectious diseases. Pioneering biomedical research has also led to strategic business agreements with pharmaceutical companies leading to a protein replacement therapy for a rare form of muscular dystrophy..

Unlocking The Brain's Mysteries

University researchers have gained national recognition for breakthroughs in understanding how vision and the brain process visual illusions. The study of illusions is important in understanding the mechanisms of sensory perception and finding cures for diseases of the visual system. The Caplovitz Vision Lab on the University campus has been cited among the top 10 in the world among the Neural Correlate Society’s annual international rankings.

Fighting Global Disease

Since 2014, the University has played a key role in fighting infectious diseases. Microbiology professor David AuCoin partnered with Public Health Canada to develop a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for Ebola. Dr. James Wilson created an algorithm-based mechanism that forecasts the spread of infectious diseases worldwide and is used by the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense and other national agencies.

How can Nevada partner with you
on dryland agriculture?

As the land-grant university in America’s driest state, the University of Nevada, Reno is home to scientists who are undertaking high-impact research into dryland agriculture, food safety and security, and alternative fuel production in an era of climate change. This work can greatly benefit countries facing drought, food and water resource issues.


Scientists taking measurements in the field

Resources to share with our global partners

We have numerous world-renowned experts in the following:

  • Dryland crops and production systems
  • Food safety and security
  • Alternative fuel production
  • Greenhouse Industry Forage crops
  • Water and irrigation R
  • angeland grazing
  • Biofuels and biomass
  • Forestry Soils
  • Rangeland restoration

Drought-Tolerant Agriculture

Our researchers are leading a study with colleagues around the world to insert water-efficient and photosynthesis processes from agave and cactus into woody biomass plants such as poplar to allow these biofuel crops to grow in areas with higher temperatures and less precipitation. This ground-breaking science will enable plants to thrive in environments affected by climate change.

Food Security

Our researchers are studying ways to improve te grass, a grain staple with origins in Ethiopia, to make it more drought tolerant and productive in arid climate agriculture, research that is in keeping with the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s focus on global food security and hunger.

Alternative Fuel Production

Our researchers are studying gumweed (grindelia squarosa), camelina and other crops that have extractable hydrocarbons, so they can be used for biodiesel or jet fuel production, or serve as biomass for energy production that does not compete with food or animal feed crops.

How Australia's Flirtey Winged
its way onto our campus...and made history

Governor's vision, state support critical to success of partnership. One of the key drivers in the success of the relationship between Flirtey and the University was the University’s Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center (NAASIC), which was founded in 2014 thanks to the indispensable support of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, and his Governor’s Office for Economic Development.

A $10 million Knowledge Fund grant from the state, enthusiastically championed by Sandoval, had laid the groundwork for NAASIC. “NAASIC’s mission is to spur research, innovation and commercialization to advance innovation-based economic development in Nevada,” College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis would say often during PowerPoint presentations to the various national academies of engineering in the U.S., as the University worked tirelessly to raise awareness and lay the groundwork for future collaboration in similar high-tech fields.

In addition to meeting the needs of high-tech companies that are new to Nevada, such as Flirtey, NAASIC had proven to be an indispensable conduit in connecting the University’s research and resources with Flirtey’s vision.

The history-making milestones of the partnership speak for themselves. On July 17, 2015, Flirtey succeeded in making the 1st commercial drone delivery ever allowed in the United States, when it delivered medical supplies to a rural medical clinic in Virginia. On March 10, 2016, Flirtey made history again when it claimed another first, the successful completion of a Federal Aviation Administration-approved urban delivery at the Hawthorne military base in Nevada. Afterward, Matthew Sweeny said it best. His startup, which had winged its way onto a northern Nevada campus less than two years before, was now on the drone delivery vanguard. “I think,” he said, “that Amazon and Google are competing with us.”