About Us

MinerFly is a service that provides researchers access to a safe and field tested fully autonomous aerial vehicle for a small fee. This service includes an experienced human pilot, a payload operator, an option to select from an array of optical instruments, regulatory compliance and general mission support; thus significantly reducing the amount of time, expertise, and money which researchers would have to invest in order to collect their desired data safely and legally.


Along with services, MinerFly owns a fleet of air worthy vehicles of varying size and payload capacity ready to collect data given sufficient notice.  Our rotary wing aircraft include: 

  • Quadcopter
    • Motor span: 25.6”
    • Max speed: 35 kts
    • Max AUW: 12.6 lbs.   
    • Max Flight time: 26 min
    • Max payload: 6 lbs.
    • 3-axis gimbal, GoPro ready
    • Configurable payload mounting options
    • Retractable Landing Gear 
  • Hexcopter
    • Motor span: 30.7”
    • Max Speed: 35kts
    • Max AUW: 17.6 lbs.
    • Max Payload: 8.2lbs
    • Max Flight time: 18min
    • 2-axis gimbal, GoPro ready
    • Retractable Landing Gear 
  • Octocopter
    • Motor span: 49.2”
    • Max Speed: 35kts
    • Max AUW: 40.7 lbs.
    • Max Payload: 20.7 lbs.
    • Max Flight time: 19 min
    • 3-axis gimbal, DSLR or similar sized camera ready
    • Emergency parachute 

If requirements of the mission can’t be met with an existing airframe with appropriate funding we can build a custom drone to fit the mission requirements. We ensure safe development of the aircraft, and utilization both during and after production.


MinerFly does not provide research sensors for aircraft; however, our aircrafts can be modified to fit a wide variety of sensors needed by any given researcher. Some sensor capabilities and purposes are listed below: 

  • Infrared scanning equipment to determine areas of concentrated or disperse heat or to measure plant health
  • Visual photos or videos to aid in surveying, disaster assistance, or risk management
  • Radio frequency sensing equipment to survey cellular coverage or observe long-range signal degradation
  • Carrying rescue equipment or providing long-range communications relays in the event of a disaster
  • LiDAR scanning equipment to determine tree or building heights, foliage health, or explore oil and gas reserves.
  • An array of optical and acoustic sensors to collect traffic data
  • Other instruments that a researcher may require to collect aerial data


All current platforms utilize two MinerFly personnel per mission.

  • The first crewmember is required to be an experienced standby human pilot.  The pilot is responsible for the airframe and to ensure the aircraft is ready to fly. The UAS pilot is engaged during flights to take over from the autopilot in the event of a system or component failure, ensuring the minimum risk to the payload, personnel, and property in the flight area.
  • The second crewmember is the ground station operator. This crewmember is responsible for ensuring the health of autonomous systems prior to launch, creating flight plans, and providing and recording flight data during the flight.

A data specialist is also required for each mission.  This person is typically from the research team and will have knowledge of the sensor and related data.   Typically, the data specialist will need to be present to prepare the sensor, and validate the data collected during the flight.

The two MinerFly crew members work together, along with the data specialist to obtain the target data. They are connected to the airframe and the payload in real time, through telemetry and first-person video feeds from the aircraft. Detailed flight log data is retained on board the aircraft, retrieved after landing, and stored for future review. 

Supported Research

We currently provide flight services support for 4 campus research efforts.

  • Dr. Joel Burken and his graduate students, who are using autonomously collected hyperspectral data to determine plant health based on controlled drought conditions. They are also using hyperspectral data to monitor the presence of explosives in soil to use plants to find land mines.
  • Dr. Genda Chen has been awarded a grant to develop a UAV to inspect and repair bridges. Dr. Chen will be using MinerFly services to design this aircraft. In addition to design, MinerFly will provide flight services to collect data using traditional data collection platforms.
  • Dr. Jagannathan Sarangapani is developing a UAV mountable microwave imaging system to provide subterranean images from the air. 


Minerfly is always evolving and developing additional capability; for instance, we have recently received funding for purchasing a manned aircraft. In doing so we plan to extend our UAV flight envelop over the horizon and offer manned flight research services as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. What sort of rules and regulations are out there for drones?

  • The FAA currently regulates UAS (aka small drones) through their Part 107 ruleset. Details can be found at https://www.faa.gov/uas/ 

Q2. Why would I use Minerfly if I can just go buy my own drone and fly it whenever I want?

  • While flying recreationally is still mostly unregulated, flying professionally in any capacity requires a part 107 certificate. To obtain this certificate you must pass a written test proving you have the knowledge to fly safely. MinerFly currently has 2 certified pilots, each with several logged flight hours on each platform to ensure our missions end as uneventfully as possible. 

Q3. Is Minerfly a design team?

  • No, we are service provided by ITRSS. Our goal is to provide safe and legal airborne data collection for campus researchers. 

Q4. Is there a cost associated with your service?

  • Yes, the fee associated with our services changes in such a way to cover our operating costs and to not break the researchers budget. 

Q5. I still have questions, how do I contact the people at Minerfly?

  • The best way to reach us is by email to minerfly@mst.edu