Florida Southern College’s computer science department is ‘flying’ toward the future in a new project in drone research and development.

Jordan Finney, a senior computer science major, took his desire to work with drones to Dr. David Mathias in the Mathematics and Computer Science department and began a small interest-based club, which has turned into a 14-student team.

They discussed researching drones and possibly constructing one from scratch.

“It started out as more of a hobby and an investigation into the technologies being used,” Finney said. “I have always been interested in any advancement in technology. Dr. Mathias and a few other students caught the “bug” and things just took off from there.”

The future, they say, is going to the drones. Amazon came out in December 2013 with the possibility of drone package delivery and CNN was recently granted permission by the U.S. Government to begin using drones for reporting.

“Since starting classes at FSC the computer science department, the classes offered and the material covered has become more personal as the professors adjust the subject matter according to our interests,” Finney said. “When I first started Game Design the class consisted of lots of theory and the opportunity to build a simple Java game, and once the course was over that was the end of it. This Semester in Game design Students have the opportunity to learn through the use of the Unreal Engine, a tool used in the industry for today’s bleeding edge video games, allowing us to apply theory, and practical to today’s industry.” Finney said.

Students have already built a drone and are programming smaller drones.

“So far we have completed construction on our large drone as well as our six miniature drones,” Finney said. “We have also successfully programmed a Kinect to control a drone using hand controls. We will soon begin working on implementing computer vision, 3D Mapping and autonomous flight.”

Rich Chapman is taking a research class with Mathias and Finney. Their focal goal in the class is to use xBox technology with a drone so it can follow motion and possibly follow moving objects.

“This is something that just really interests me. This is really big right now and I wanted to be involved, it seems where everything is headed now.”