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Sun, May 01, 2016

NASA And FAA Practice Drone Traffic Management

Numerous Drones Recently Participated In Testing At FAA Test Sites Across The Country

Many beneficial civilian applications of UAS have been proposed, from goods delivery and infrastructure surveillance, to search and rescue, and agricultural monitoring. However, at this time there is no established infrastructure to provide traffic control for multiple drone operations.

In a newsletter published by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), they reference to an article in Tech Times that provided some insight regarding recent testing of traffic management procedures for multiple drone operations. According to the author, Menchie Mendoza, this test was intended to validate NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) research platform.

Building on its legacy of work in air traffic management for crewed aircraft, NASA is researching prototype technologies for a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system that could develop airspace integration requirements for enabling safe, efficient low-altitude operations.

Mendoza reports that 24 drones were involved in the three-hour exercise, of which 22 were flying simultaneously during the operation. He reports that NASA’s test procedures involved creating conflicts during the flight, approving or disapproving flight plans, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the UTM program.

He also reports that NASA interjected virtual aircraft in the same airspace being occupied by the drones to provide a mix of traffic. The article quoted Richard C. Kelley, chief engineer at the Nevada Advance Autonomous Systems Innovation Center as saying, “We enjoyed working with the NASA UTM team to explore UAS air traffic management concepts through the UTM research platform."

NASA says they envision concepts for two types of possible UTM systems. The first type would be a Portable UTM system, which would move from between geographical areas and support operations such as precision agriculture and disaster relief. The second type of system would be a Persistent UTM system, which would support low-altitude operations and provide continuous coverage for a geographical area.

All in all, there’s a lot to be accomplished before front door delivery of packages becomes a reality.

(Image from NASA website)

FMI: www.auvsi.org/home   www.nasa.gov

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