Rutgers University has banned the recreational use of drones on Rutgers property and is developing policies for the use of autonomous devices for research and educational use.

Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi announced the ban on unmanned aerial vehicles Monday in a universitywide email to all students and staff.

Rutgers "is banning the recreational use of UAVs, remotely operated model airplanes and helicopters, and other remotely operated flying vehicles on university property, and the recreational use of any university-owned UAV equipment under any circumstances in any location," Barchi wrote. "Failure to comply with this ban may result in confiscation of the UAV, imposition of disciplinary measures, and possible state and/or federal penalties."

The legal landscape for drone use is complicated, Barchi noted, and he cited safety issues such as possible interference with medevac helicopters that land at university hospitals.

Still, he said, drones have research and educational applications that Rutgers should encourage.

"UAVs are not only a new focus of university research, but they also have increasing commercial applications and recreational uses. It is important for our faculty and students to be able to make use of drones in their research and educational activities," Barchi wrote. "Toward this end, we are working to identify locations that can provide a safe testing area for UAV research and educational uses."

Rutgers is creating a committee to study the use of drones, Barchi said, beginning with a universitywide survey to inventory existing equipment on Rutgers' campuses.

The full email is below:

From: Robert L. Barchi
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2016 5:01 p.m.
To: PRESIDENT_ALLSTAFF@rams.rutgers.edu; PRESIDENT_ALLSTUDENTS@rams.rutgers.edu
Subject: Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on Rutgers Property
Members of the Rutgers Community:
Recently the federal government has defined unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, as flying vehicles, flown by a pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through use of an onboard computer.
UAVs are not only a new focus of university research, but they also have increasing commercial applications and recreational uses. It is important for our faculty and students to be able to make use of drones in their research and educational activities. Toward this end, we are working to identify locations that can provide a safe testing area for UAV research and educational uses.
Effective immediately, however, the university is banning the recreational use of UAVs, remotely operated model airplanes and helicopters, and other remotely operated flying vehicles on university property, and the recreational use of any university-owned UAV equipment under any circumstances in any location. Failure to comply with this ban may result in confiscation of the UAV, imposition of disciplinary measures, and possible state and/or federal penalties.
It is essential for the university to address the challenges to the safety and security of our campus and the surrounding community that may arise from the unsafe operation of these devices on or above our campus or elsewhere in university-sponsored research or educational activities. As just one example, UAVs and other remotely operated flying vehicles have the potential to interfere with the air-medical transport helicopters that regularly land at our community medical center, potentially causing injury or loss of life. In addition there are complex regulatory compliance processes administrated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with which all UAV flights must comply. The use of university equipment or the use of UAVs for approved university business needs to be centrally coordinated and regulated for safety reasons.
Service providers or vendors using UAVs for university business need to provide documentation of FAA compliance and adequate insurance prior to conducting business for the university.
To enable research and educational activities involving UAVs, the Offices of Research and Economic Development and Risk Management are forming a multidisciplinary committee to develop and implement policy and procedures, and to recommend enforcement rules regarding the use of UAVs and autonomous devices on Rutgers University property, involving university-owned equipment, or related to university-sponsored projects. The committee is working expeditiously to implement the relevant policies, including the process for obtaining permission to use UAVs on campus, as soon as practical.
As part of this process we are distributing a survey university-wide to enable a census of what UAV equipment the university or its faculty and staff own and/or what university research or educational programs are using this kind of technology. Researchers currently using UAV technology for university projects conducted off university property, in addition to filling out the survey, should submit documentation of FAA compliance and certificates of insurance to Alejandro Ruiz at Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety (ruiz@.rutgers.edu; 848-445-2550) and Bill Troy in Risk Management (bill.troy@rutgers.edu; 848-932-7300). Researchers who do not have such documentation should suspend operations until the university determines that the project is compliant with regulations and adequately insured.
Thank you for your patience and support as we establish clear policies for the safe and responsible use of UAVs and other autonomous vehicles at the university for research and educational purposes. If you have any questions, please contact Alejandro Ruiz at the above email address or telephone number.
Sincerely,
Robert L. Barchi
President