UW–Madison encourages safe and lawful use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) for research and instructional use. This policy helps researchers and instructors meet the Federal Aviation Association’s rules for flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—better known as aerial drones—while also helping to protect privacy.
This policy applies to the operation of autonomous vehicles by faculty, staff, and students in connection with instructional, research, outreach, and other institutional uses on or off campus, as well as all uses of unmanned aircraft systems or ultralight aircraft by any person or organization on or in any lands or facilities owned by, leased by, or otherwise under the control of the UW. This policy applies to operations in both indoor and exterior spaces and in connection with UW activities whether occurring within the U.S. or internationally. This policy does not apply to unmanned aircraft system operations by the UW–Madison Police Department or other first responder operations conducted in accordance with applicable law.
UW–Madison faculty, staff, students, contractors, and affiliates seeking to operate unmanned aircraft systems (drones) and ultralight aircraft for UW-related education, research, and non-academic purposes must submit pilot and flight applications in ARROW (Application Review for Research Oversight at Wisconsin) to the Research Vehicle Safety Oversight Committee for review no less than 30 days in advance of the first proposed flight date. UW–Madison does not allow faculty, staff, students, or contractors to use drones or ultralight aircraft on UW–Madison premises or in connection with UW–Madison activities without approval.
For safety and privacy reasons, drone operations by students, employees, or visitors for recreational or hobbyist purposes are still not permitted on UW–Madison premises. Drone operations by registered student organizations and by students in connection with UW–Madison coursework, are eligible to be considered for approval under this policy as instructional uses.
All drones and ultralights operated on UW–Madison premises or in connection with university-related activities must be operated by an individual who has the requisite certifications and experience necessary to conduct the research vehicle operation lawfully and safely. In addition, after March 16, 2024, drones must be equipped with a remote ID, a remote ID broadcast module, or operate in a FAA authorized identification area (FRIA). For drone operations conducted under the Operations Over People Rule or operations which require a waiver from the FAA, the requisite certification is a current FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate and documentation of completion of the applicable Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent online course. For all other drone operations conducted by UW personnel, a FAA TRUST Certificate is considered a requisite certification. Pilots operating under TRUST Certificates are responsible for being knowledgeable of and adhering to the FAA’s TRUST Certificate restrictions, including line-of-sight flights only.
Drone operations by third parties for marketing/promotional purposes are not permitted under this policy and should be directed to University Marketing. Contractors seeking approval must submit the Planning, Design, or Construction Contractor Request for Authorization to Operate UAS on UW Lands to Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture. All contractors and other third-party operators must possess a current Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate.
Flying Near a Hospital Heliport
If you are flying within five miles of a hospital heliport, you can fly a drone or ultralight only if it is safe to do so. As a pilot, you must:
Student Organization Guidance