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University Event Takes A Long And Hard Look At Drone Traffic

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The University of Utah's Electronic Arts and Engineering program students developed an app that can help mitigate drone traffic in Salt Lake City. The app is named Drone Command, and it was unveiled at EAE Launch Day.  ( EAE | The University of Utah )

The University of Utah's Electronic Arts and Engineering program unveiled some of their new student-made games at the EAE Launch Day.

One of the stars of the show is an app similar to Sim City that will help Salt Lake City manage future drone traffic.

Drone Operation Simulation

The app is named Drone Commander, and it is developed for the Utah Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration. Salt Lake City is expected to be one of the first cities in the United States to experience drone traffic, so students of the EAE program at the University of Utah developed the app to help city officials manage drone congestion in the future.

"Drone Commander is a game built as part of an ongoing research project run by EAE's Games and Therapeutic Apps Lab, sponsored by the Utah Department of Transportation," says EAE Director Michael Young, a professor in the university's School of Computing, to KSL.com.

"The game simulates drone operations over the Salt Lake Valley, and players can experience challenges that reflect a number of real-world issues that come with drone operations."

The app is developed under EAE program's Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab. In the app, Salt Lake City is scaled to its correct dimensions, so city officials can plan congestion better where drone traffic might occur.

According to Jesse Ferraro, project manager for EAE's Therapeutic GApps Lab, Drone Commander demonstrates a simulation that can test the speed of drones as well as its spawn rates. Users can also test some critical factors such as losing control of the drone or if it doesn't respond properly with the communication systems.

"We want to see where the system breaks and where we will hit critical mass," Ferraro added.

The whole team demoed Drone Commander and all the apps to the public on Wednesday, April 24, at the EAE Master Games Studio, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

EAE Launch Event

The EAE Launch Day is an annual event held by the University of Utah to showcase its students' latest apps and games.

According to Young, over 400 visitors came and participated in the event this year, and more than 30 projects were displayed. He also said that this year's EAE Launch has some alternate controller games made by the students from the projects class, which became a big hit to the visitors.

Alternate controller games are games that can be played on physical controllers other than keyboards, console controller, or mouse. The students showcased some games where they can be controlled by martial arts punching dummies, Ouija boards, and Tesla spheres.

Other games featured at the event include the following:

Sky Shepherd: A game where the player uses a flute to control a group of mysterious creatures as they traverse the sky.

Time Break: An alternate reality game where the user plays a police officer who has a time-slowing watch to solve crimes in the city.

Fast Travel: A game where the player tries to maneuver a hoverbike through dangerous and tricky landscapes to successfully deliver loot boxes.

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