NASA Has Plans To Manage A Future Full of Aerial Drones

NASA plans to create a 4 step program to manage future aerial drone traffic
NASA plans to create a 4 step program to manage future aerial drone traffic

NASA has formulated a long-term plan to come up with an air-traffic management system for drones which is based on current systems in place for the civil aviation sector.

Specialists and experts from around the world attended NASA’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management Convention where Parimal Kopardekar, Principal investigator of NASA’s Next Gen Airspace Project, gave his keynote speech which addressed the need for such a system.

He laid out 4 ‘builds’ that showed how NASA was planning ahead:

  • Build 1, which would be in place by next month, will focus on building an integrated traffic system for drones flying over unpopulated land and water that can be used by the pilot of the drone. This system would be used by agencies for agriculture, fire fighting services and infrastructure monitoring.
  • Build 2, proposed for October 2016, would allow drones to fly ‘out of sight’ of their operators. This would be used in sparsely populated areas focusing on establishing, tracking and flying rules for drones.
  • Build 3, by January 2018, would implement drone-to-drone communications, measures to separate them and improve connectivity from devices linked to and between drones. This would also be done in moderately populated areas with some manned aircraft flying around. This would be the stage at which there could be the implementation of limited delivery functions by public sector companies like Amazon.
  • Finally in March 2019, build 4 would see drones flying highly populated urban areas. This would be backed up with autonomous drone to drone communications, contingencies for emergencies and a government led monitoring body resembling the Federal Aviation Administration as well as regional bodies that would be able to help manage traffic in the skies.

Korpardekar, an alumni of the University of Bombay, said that plans and proposals by Amazon regarding drone delivery systems and the recent disruption of fire fighting services by aerial drones in California have shown a growing interest in this field.

His team has been working for the past few years with government and non-governmental organisations to lay out these plans and have an air-traffic management client interface that’s available to some partners. If implemented well, they could set the template for drone traffic management systems worldwide.

You can view Parimal Korpardekar’s keynote speech below.

Picture Credit (Wikipedia)

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