NASA begins testing system to manage drone traffic in cities

NASA begins testing system to manage drone traffic in cities
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NASA is reportedly testing a national system to manage the air traffic of commercial drones as more companies look to make deliveries to consumers via unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Associated Press reported Friday that NASA researchers flew multiple drones in downtown Reno, Nev., this week as part of a test of an unmanned flight system. The system can detect potential crashes while drones travel along a route determined by GPS software.

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The system, if implemented, could reportedly help manage hundreds of thousands of privately owned drones in flight as companies expand into drone deliveries and other uses of the technology.

“This activity is the latest and most technical challenge we have done with unmanned aerial systems,” an official with NASA in California, David Korsmeyer, told the AP.

“When we began this project four years ago, many of us wouldn’t have thought we’d be standing here today flying UAVs with advanced drone systems off high-rise buildings,” he added.

The results of NASA's tests will reportedly be shared with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA has said it will not take final action on regulations governing the use of drones above crowds of people until it first finishes work on a rule governing the identification of drones in mid-air, according to the AP.

“There can be a lot of Silicon Valley mentality where people don’t want to wait. So, we’re trying to strike a balance between unleashing entrepreneurship and ensuring we’re doing it safely while trying to accelerate acceptance of drones in public,” the study's project manager said, according to the AP.

One NASA official in charge of aeronautics research at NASA's Ames facility in California told the news service that she encountered skepticism from her superiors when she revealed that the agency was testing the use of small drones.

“They said, ‘Are you crazy?’” Huy Tran said, according to the AP. “We hope Reno shows drones can be flown and land safely.”