free UTM workshop

NASA and FAA to hold joint, free UTM workshop for the public

If you want to get in on NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration’s strategy for drone traffic management (also known as UAS Traffic Management, or UTM), here’s a golden opportunity.

NASA and the FAA are jointly hosting a free UTM workshop next month, and it’s open for the public to join in and participate.

The workshop will be held on Monday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. PT at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., just south of San Francisco.

Anyone can join the workshop, though spots are limited to just the first 150 people who register. And, there’s a limit of two attendees per organization.

NASA has spent years working on a plan for unmanned drone traffic management  that could be adopted by the FAA. And NASA is currently entering into Phase Two of their UTM Pilot Program. Phase Two is expected to build upon learnings from Phase One, by incorporating Remote Identification and operations with increasing volumes and density.

And as part of the free UTM workshop, NASA will provide an in-depth view of what’s to come in the next phase, including concept of use, architecture, technical and functional requirements, a detailed timeline, and partnership selection criteria for on-boarding.

UTM is expected to rely heavily on public-private partnerships, where companies would create networks where drone pilots would be able to connect to share their flight information.

Some of the proposed plans for UTM involve a system where multiple service providers (those partners) 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. It would be a very similar model to the cell phone industry, where your provider (ie. Verizon) is able to send your text message to a central system, which gets transmitted back out to your friend (even if they use AT&T or Sprint). And of course, the cell phone industry is heavily influenced (and regulated by) the FCC.

Some companies like AirMap or Kittyhawk are likely to be public-facing, meaning any member of the public would be able to sign up and participate in the network. Other companies like Google, are expected to participate, but to create networks for their own drones (Google is working extensively on drone deliveries). And those companies are likely going to be the types of companies that are candidates to become one of NASA’s Phase 2 partners.

And NASA has tough requirements to become a partner. According to NASA, Phase Two partners should be able to support the following capabilities:

  • UAS operations in high density airspace;
  • Remote ID services;
  • USS transmission of flight information to air traffic control due to an off-nominal UTM event;
  • Public safety operations; and,
  • UAS Volume Reservations (UVR) service.

The U.S. drone sector is no stranger to public-private partnerships. Another massive public-private partnership is the FAA’s drone pilot program, which pairs 10 state and local governments up with private companies to test types of drone flights that are currently banned in the U.S., including flying drones at night, flying over people and package delivery.

Register to participate in the workshop here. The last day for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to register is Monday, Nov. 25. But you may want to register long before then, as spots are limited.

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