NASA is now partnering with Verizon Wireless and more than 100 other technology firms, including Google and Airware, to research what could eventually become an automated drone air traffic control system.
On Thursday, The Guardian cited documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act to report that Verizon is specifically building some sort of system to examine whether cell towers “could support communications and surveillance of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at low altitudes.” The system, known formally as the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM), is scheduled to be presented in its finalized form to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by 2019. The research is still in its early stages.
“That’s when we turn it over to FAA,” Paul McKim, a policy advisor at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, told Ars. “Will the FAA accept it? That’s yet to be seen. We’re trying to do proof of concept that this will work, so that everybody who is flying in that area can see and be seen.”
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