CU Boulder and Black Swift Technologies Announce New Drone-based Atmospheric Research Service for Scientists and Researchers

Program provides access to highly specialized research equipment without the burden of acquisition costs or ongoing maintenance fees.

Boulder, CO – (July 10, 2018) – University of Colorado (CU) Boulder Integrated Remote and In Situ Sensing (IRISS) Initiative and Black Swift Technologies (BST), a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, CO, announced today the formation of a cost-based service program providing scientists and researchers access to the combined resources of one of the nation’s leading atmospheric research universities and the developer of the premier unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flight management control avionics and advanced aerial platforms specifically designed for atmospheric science-based missions. This collaborative, supportive approach serves as the foundation for a new research paradigm centered on atmospheric research providing researchers and scientists access to highly specialized unmanned aircraft research equipment without the burden of acquisition costs or ongoing maintenance fees.

The announcement was made at the 6th ISARRA (International Society for Atmospheric Research using Remotely Piloted Aircraft) Annual Conference being held on the campus of CU Boulder.

“Our vision is to create a collaborative environment where we can be greater than the sum of our parts,” states Cory Dixon, Ph.D., IRISS Chief Technologist. “By capitalizing on our strengths in aerospace engineering and earth sciences together with Black Swift Technologies advanced flight management avionics, sensor integration and their purpose-built scientific research unmanned aircraft systems, we can support a wide range of atmospheric science initiatives at a time where rapid technological advances keep many of these capabilities out of reach of typical researchers and scientists.”

A Turnkey Atmospheric Research Solution
Modeled after the burgeoning subscription-based business model, CU’s atmospheric research service initiative provides scientists and researchers access to one of the largest and most diverse fleet of UAS specifically designed for atmospheric sensing along with one of the nation’s leading ground support offerings (cars, personnel, calibration equipment/towers).  This team, whose customers include NASA, NOAA, NCAR, UTSI, NPS, DOI, and leading research institutions worldwide, can address almost any foreseeable atmospheric science requirement from simple data acquisition through full-service custom payload installation and operation.

This alliance delivers unprecedented UAS research experience, personnel, avionics, payload and sensor capabilities, coupled with the UAS flight control infrastructure previously unavailable in a unified resource.

“This new research strategy will allow researchers and scientists the freedom to focus on the science of their program versus the logistics,” emphasizes Jack Elston, Ph.D., CEO of Black Swift Technologies. “The experience, equipment, and approved flight operation permissions that IRISS possesses can be invaluable in enabling atmospheric research with reduced costs and shorter timelines under evolving FAA guidelines.”

For more information about this novel approach in enabling UAS-based atmospheric research, contact

About CU Boulder IRISS
At the University of Colorado Boulder, IRISS transforms data-collection technologies and strategies by facilitating 4D sight through a ground-to-space sensing column with unmanned aircraft systems operating in the atmosphere integrated with ground-based and spaced-based observation systems. IRISS, a pillar of the CU Boulder Grand Challenge, is a multi-disciplinary team that leads the design, development, and deployment of novel remote and in-situ sensing systems to exploit mobility enabled by aerospace systems to enhance data collection from the ground, in the atmosphere, and from space. With its partners, IRISS explores commercial opportunities and fosters discussions on the ethical, legal, and social policy implications of new technologies and big-data collection.

About Black Swift Technologies
Based in Boulder, CO and founded in 2011, Black Swift Technologies LLC, is recognized for delivering reliable, robust, and highly accurate unmanned aircraft systems capable of flying scientific payloads in demanding atmospheric environments (high-altitude, corrosive particulates, and strong turbulence). Its purpose-built scientific aerial platforms are used around the globe for a variety of specialized atmospheric research missions in extreme conditions, including monitoring and assessing wildland fires, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Precision aerial initiatives leveraging its UAS solutions include: environmental monitoring, precision aerial mapping, infrastructure inspection, engineering and surveying, construction management and monitoring, precision agriculture, volumetric measurement, stockpile management, and risk mitigation. All Black Swift’s UAS solutions leverage its acclaimed SwiftCore™ Flight Management System (FMS) consisting of the SwiftPilot™ autopilot system, the SwiftTab™ tablet-based user interface, the SwiftStation™ ground station, and application specific sensor integrations. The SwiftCore™ FMS is designed to be modular, robust, and simple to operate allowing users to focus on data products. More information on Black Swift Technologies and their suite of sUAS solutions can be found at: