THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Nicholls State University students in the field of "geomatics" — the use of data about the earth's surface — will have access to the latest advancements in surveying technology with the donation of a high-tech unmanned aerial vehicle.

aerial vehicleThe university said Tuesday that the vehicle is being donated by Lafayette-based Navigation Electronics Inc.

The donation is valued at $70,000. It includes the Trimble UX5 unmanned aerial vehicle, optical sensors, image processing and software. The lightweight 5.5-pound model is capable of flying up to 16,404 feet and travels up to 50 mph.

Nicholls' geomatics department uses unmanned aerial vehicles for projects such as mapping Louisiana's coastlines, monitoring infrastructure and studying flares on oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

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