The Aerodrome at UC San Diego is a research facility provided by the Contextual Robotics Institute to enable controlled, outdoor research with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Constructed in 2017 with funding from our partners at Qualcomm and Northrop Grumman, the Aerodrome is San Diego's premier outdoor drone flight cage, supporting research and collaboration in autonomous flight, perception, machine learning and multi-vehicle collaboration. The facility is an enclosed, mesh cage, roughly 45' x 55' feet in area and 35' tall. The space is available to researchers, graduate students and undergrads (see details below for scheduling time).


Researchers may schedule time in the Aerodrome by contacting Leah Kent, Project Manager or Tim McConnell, Robotics and UAV Specialist.


Standard Operating Procedures, including safety requirements and contacts, are included in the SOP document here.


To access the facility, after reserving time on the Aerodrome calendar, a key must be checked out from Leah Kent in the Contextual Robotics Institute or Tim McConnell. This will allow unlocking of the main gate, which is secured with a cable and padlock. This gate must be re-secured in the open postion and the key must be returned immediately after use.


To convert the gate from opened to closed, unlock the padlock and remove the cable that secures the gate handle to the structure. Unravel the retract rope on Pole 4 (closest to street) and lay loosely on the ground ensuring there will not be any kinks while running through the top pulley.

*Note that there is already an existing knot in both retractable pulley ropes that prevent the lines from being pulled all the way through the pulleys and onto the floor.This knot should NOT ever be untied.

Walk over to Pole 5 (closest to building), disconnect pulley rope from cleat and pull straight down. The gate will begin to close.

Once the netting is close to Pole 5, ensure the metal magnetic bar lashed at the end of the retractable panel is vertical and parallel with the steel plate welded to the pole.

Pull the bar up to the plate using the handle connected to the steel tubing and make sure all magnetic tabs are holding to plate. Both pulley ropes can then be wrapped around their cleats until gate needs to opened again.


When the netting is closed, unhook the pulley line at Pole 5 (closest to building), walk over to Pole 4 (closest to street), undo the pulley rope and begin to pull while watching the pulley at the top to ensure no snagging or bunching up.

It helps to pull the netting along at the bottom while pulling down on the pulley rope for smooth opening.

Do not pull with great force - if the pulley becomes snagged, jostle gently until it is freed. Once the gate is open, wrap the pulley ropes around the cleats.

Be sure to lock the gate in the open position and return the key to the Contextual Robotics Institute (Leah Kent or Tim McConnell).