Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno, are trying to create a safe airspace for drone pilots to fly their unmanned systems with a new traffic-management system. Their research is part of NASA’s Ames Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management initiative to get aircraft operating in low altitude.
“With all of the many uses being developed for unmanned aerial systems, air traffic nearer to the ground has the potential to become very crowded,” said Warren Rapp, business director for the University’s Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center (NAASIC). “We’re pleased to be part of this leading-edge, forward-thinking project.”
The university is also teaming up with Flirtey, the first drone delivery service to fly in the U.S., and Drone America, a drone provider. Flirtey and Drone America will be involved in testing the university’s software under NASA’s supervision.
“Figuring out how to safely enable low-altitude UAS operations is essential for the future of unmanned flight in the United States,” said Richard Kelley, chief engineer for NAASIC. “NASA’s UTM project is a key enabler of that future, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The university is currently working on a system that would include airspace design, corridors, dynamic geofencing, severe weather and wind avoidance, congestion management, terrain avoidance, route planning, and rerouting.
“We’ll need to devise a system to make vehicles autonomously aware of each other so they can avoid each other, as well as a system to create traffic ‘patterns’ or navigation protocols that would keep aircraft away from each other in the first place,” Kelley said.