OneOcean UAS Nexus Program

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are becoming the perfect non-invasive research tool for estimating various marine species, monitoring their reproductive behaviors, and foraging strategies. There are also thousands of marine applications that UAS can perform to assist in recording sea-level rise and coastal resilience; securing harbors and ports; and enforcing regulations by flying over designated marine protected areas. UAS technology eliminates human risk, lowers costs, noise, and carbon emissions; improves accuracy of sightings of wildlife; and allows surveys in a range of environmental conditions. UAS technology also has usage in marine related emergencies. With the innovative focus on marine applications, jobs will expand as regulations and policy are created.

The Tesla Foundation, in partnership with research universities and organizations, are assembling the finest marine UAS education curriculum in existence, the OneOcean UAS Nexus program, and designing research projects focused on climate change, marine life, fisheries management, and issues of the marine environment.

The Tesla Foundation is committed to ensuring responsible piloting of UASs, and the OneOcean UAS Nexus program will help local and global marine partners fly responsibly over marine habitats while collecting vital data that will address worldwide issues like climate change and sea level rise, or more local projects focused on wetland conservation, tourism boating behavior, marine pollution, marine mammal health status, and fisheries management. The focus is to create strategies to improve the health, environment, costs, and quality of life for marine life and humanity.






The Tesla Foundation knows that UAS technology offers a nimble and flexible approach to research, mapping, and analysis and is just in its beginning stages.  The OneOcean UAS Nexus program offers education, implementation, and research that will significantly increase conservation efforts around the world utilizing UAS technology.

The OneOcean UAS Nexus program will not only create a hub for scientists, commercial, and recreational pilots in finding information that contributes to the protection of marine wildlife but will also be essential to the animals and habitat we study and protect.

OneOcean UAS Nexus creates the future stewards of UAS technology. Tesla has established standards to protect use, develop integrity, and create a workforce that uses the technology respectfully and responsibly. Applications of this technology are growing so rapidly that the younger generation will be the ones who innovate new uses – and they need to know how to fly responsibly and how to sustain this industry, at the same time being respectful of the environment.

Most universities do not have access to this technology and have no licensing certification, and in partnership with Tesla Foundation the OneOcean UAS Nexus can provide research development courses, protocols for use of the technology, and licensing. Specifically, OneOcean UAS Nexus will address biological and conservation standards to protect our natural resources, ocean heritage, and marine life, while teaching groups and individuals how to utilize the technology.

Educational opportunities are for all age levels, including youth in high school, students in community colleges and universities, and for adults working within organizations. The curriculum teaches the importance of environmental conservation as well as how to fly the UAS responsibly. Education is focused on workforce development, teaching individuals leading edge technology that offers limitless possibilities in this emerging industry. Students learn how to pilot responsibly and get their UAS pilot’s license.

OneOcean UAS Nexus provides your organization:

  1. Courses in responsible and sustainable research methods using UAS technology in marine environments
  2. Prepare students for pilots license exam
  3. Innovative new uses of technology within your organization to meet your goals
  4. With the right tools and methods to help you collect meaningful data
  5. With connections to others in the industry who are working on similar projects
  6. A long-term partnership in research and education



Tesla Foundation, as a result of the OneOcean USV Nexus program hosts a specialized UAS Ambassador Team that is deployable around the globe to assist in research. The team prioritizes conscious and responsible flight planning and methods when collecting data near marine wildlife and habitats.

We know it’s expensive for research projects to build their own UAS research teams, so we are here to help with UAS teams and drones that will accept contracts around the world.

If you would like to use UASs for your research or development project we are here to help provide a pilot, team of pilots/researchers, or consultation on how you can create an internal team within your organization.

We are deployable around the globe, and we are flexible and have a large network of partners to tap into. Which is why we are the Think Tank for The Industrial Revolution 4.0 – cleaner, smarter, and autonomous.

We are responsible, focus not only on flight regulations but on the biological disturbances that might be encountered while flying over coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Research Areas:

  • Ecotourism
  • Marine Protected Area
  • Spatial Planning and Analysis
  • Marine Wildlife Behavior, Population, and Health
  • Fisheries Management
  • Enforcement and Monitoring
  • Offshore Energy Development
  • Port and Harbor Planning and Protection


Marine Wildlife UAS Task Force

To ensure that best practices and the most relevant issues are addressed, Tesla Foundation has assembled the Marine Life UAS Task Force. This group provides guidance for California, National, and International Stakeholders about responsible application of UAS’s around marine life and humans conducting activities on the coast and on the ocean. As global specialist in this technology, together this group of individuals brings real world knowledge, skills and ideas about responsible UAS use around marine life; are the advocates for the responsible use of UAS’s around marine life; and develop timely solutions to the foreseeable hurdles associated to implementing recommendations from the group.

We are dedicated to creating partnerships. Are you interested in joining industry cluster or task force?



ALICIA AMERSON – Marine Program Director & Licensed UAS Pilot

Ms. Amerson created the first Marine Wildlife UAS Task Force in California to address responsible flying around near wildlife that use coastlines and ocean habitats. In 2016 she was the first California Sea Grant State Fellow to be placed in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of the State of California. Amerson earned a B.S. in biology from Eastern New Mexico University in 2002, and then in 2012 she earned her Certified Project Manager credentials and worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory on the environmental remediation project to clean up the hazardous and radiological waste produced during the Manhattan Project Era. She earned a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in 2015. She worked on UAS research projects in Western Australia and South Australia with Murdoch University, collecting data on large whales in reproductive areas. Amerson studied whales and dolphins in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California; and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Australia. She is a large whale disentanglement volunteer in California and secured $100,000K of state funds for the volunteer teams as a Sea Grant Fellow. She continues to work closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on developing UAS guidelines and the use of this technology to assist in large whale disentanglement emergency response efforts. Her interest in protecting the ocean by preventing pollution and educating the public lead her to create a cigarette butt litter campaign called Mutts Against Butts in San Diego, CA. Her interest in ocean and environmental conservation is demonstrated through continued volunteer efforts with various ocean-focused NGOs around the world. Amerson currently lives in Sacramento, CA with her two adorable Australian shepherds.

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Alicia Amerson