NASA UTM plans drones

NASA Ames will reveal their UTM plans for managing drone traffic to the public tomorrow

NASA has long been working on a system for managing drone air traffic, known as UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management).

And tomorrow, NASA is getting the public involved as it demonstrates its new, drone-related technologies and UTM plans on Facebook Live.

NASA will host a Facebook Live event on the NASA Ames Facebook page at 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDTJune 6 with UTM researchers.

The event will be physically held at the Ames’ UTM Airspace Operations Laboratory,  which is the control center used to support research, testing and coordination during the flight tests, which are conducted at six Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test sites across the country.

Related read: NASA is using drones to explore volcanoes

NASA’s announcements tomorrow will largely revolve around its Technology Capability Level-3 flight demonstration, which began on March 5 and focuses on testing technologies that maintain safe spacing between both responsive and non-responsive drones, beyond visual line of sight and over moderately populated areas. TCL-3 includes initial drone testing for suburban applications, such as package deliveries, and public safety applications, such as disaster response.

NASA has spent years working on a plan for unmanned drone traffic management  that could be adopted by the FAA. Much of its work has revolved around a system where multiple service providers would allow drone operators to connect with each other through a common application interface. Users would digitally  send information about their flight destination and receive data of other drone’s flight information.

“What that does is gives the operator and support services complete awareness of all the other operations going on in the airspace at the same time,” said Parimal Kopardekar, manager of NASA’s Safe Autonomous Systems Operations project, in a former interview with The Drone Girl.

Those private organizations are mostly startups like California-based startup AirMap, North Dakota-based Botlink and Verizon-owned Skyward

which have created mobile and desktop apps that allow users to input data such as the drone’s final destination and time of flight. Large corporations like Google and Amazon may also develop their own software to allow their drones to interact with the central API.

“They are the services providers, like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint,” Kopardekar said.

Can’t wait for enough NASA drone news until then? In the meantime, listen to NASA Aeronautics researcher Parimal Kopardekar on the latest NASA Silicon Valley podcast, or just read the transcript here.

One Comment

  • Robert says:

    Curious to hear more from NASA. Do drones really need to register a “flight path” or is this for drones that are flying beyond our vision?

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