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Drone Flights Near 2020 Project

Unmanned Aircraft Systems, also known as drones, have been deployed to monitor the progress of construction of the 2020 Project.  It has provided aerial images for project documentation and will continue to monitor construction progress throughout construction. 
With the opening of Granite Pass and Glacier Point, students may be alarmed by the sight and sound of a drone near their dorm or classroom. 

Figure 1: A stock image of a DJI Inspire 2 which is used in the UC Merced 2020 Project Construction Monitoring

While the majority of the drone flying will be done above the fenced off area of the Project 2020 site, there are two flight paths that will take it over active parts of campus. For these flight paths, the drone will fly directly above Granite Pass, Glacier Point and the Pavilion at an altitude of 200 ft, roughly the same height as the construction cranes.

The operator will avoid flying the drone near any dorm window and will have the drone’s camera fixed on the buildings under construction.   

Figure 2: Flight Path of Drone over Campus (Yellow dashed arrows)

These flights will take place once or twice a month on a Monday or Wednesday morning between 8:45 am and 9:00 am. The first flight is planned for August 15th and a second is planned for September 12th.  There will be announcements for future flights. The operator of the drone is 1) licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 2) is contracted by 3) will be walking in the vicinity of the drone during flight and 4) wearing a high-visibility reflective vest. UC Merced additionally has access to review all footage taken with the drone.

If you have any concerns, please feel to reach out to the UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety at or (209) 201-2051.

While precautions have been taken to minimize safety issues and discomfort, there are steps you may
take regarding this drone flight operation

  • You may close your blinds during the operation of the drone. Every effort will be made to announce future
  • flight operations.
  • If you are concerned that the drone has invaded your privacy, please reach out to UC Merced’s Privacy Office or the UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety to initiate a review.
  • If you would like to talk with the operator, please wait until the operator has landed the drone.
  • For your own safety, please avoid walking underneath the drone while it is in flight.

In addition to this drone monitoring the 2020 Project construction, UC Merced owns a large fleet of
drones. While the majority of drones are used for academic research and education, drones are also
flown by UC Merced Public Relations and for UC Merced Facilities Management. Below are some
examples where drone aerial imagery may be found:

All drone flights at UC Merced must be approved by the Office of Campus and Public Safety – requestors
can use the UC Drones WebApp to submit requests ( All approved drone
operations on campus are done by licensed operators and must wear high-visibility orange reflective