The University of South Florida recently received a grant to expand its "Digital Media Commons"—part of a broader effort to remodel the school's facilities with new technologies. After a year applying that grant money, however, something crazy happened: The Tampa-based university found itself with leftover funds. So it decided to use that money to try a little experiment—one involving, as so many experiments do these days, drones. Starting this fall, USF will be loaning out drones to its students for various multimedia projects. The remote-controlled vehicles, which are designed to capture aerial video and photos, cost $1,500 each—but they'll be free for students to check out, library book-style.
The rent-a-drone system, as you'd expect, isn't quite as simple as book check-outs are. Students will be required to enroll in a brief training program before they're able to borrow the drones. They'll also be required to explain how they'll use the drones in their work—no joy-droning allowed. And while they fly the drones over campus, the students will be supervised by a faculty member. (At the moment, the program is mostly limited to on-campus droning—though, CNN notes, off-campus use is possible with a professor's endorsement. And with students held liable for any damages the UAVs sustain in the process.)