Drone and UAS Traffic Management
With increased UAS activity, it is important to think about safety in the skies. NASA began its research into UAS traffic management system operations (UTM) to enable low altitude civilian aircraft flight, as well as commercial surveillance. Currently there is no established guidelines for drone traffic, but NASA predicts that their work with the FAA will administer results in the next year or so.
UTM is targeting towards commercial companies, but the rules will also apply to citizen hobbyist uses. The technology behind UTM includes mapping out the path UAS will take beforehand, and having these paths followed on a global system. These include all aircraft that fly at a maximum of 400 feet in the air. The idea behind UTM is designed so that the most automation is possible and the least number of human operators are required. It is also designed so that these systems may expand beyond rural areas into urban cities.
UTM also will allow for emergency aircrafts to have right of way in air space, hindering the path of other UAS. This means UTM is made of smart technology, gauging the tasks of one drone and comparing its importance to others. Registering all drones will become the utmost importance, including those of hobbyists in the case of emergency scenarios.
For NASA to test these technologies, different levels of complexity are considered in UTM development stages. There are currently four stages called “Technology Capability Levels” (TCL), that have been developing since 2015 from sparsely populated areas to package delivery operations. Different emergency scenarios must be considered including fire safety, injury protection, and other time dependent situations. In all scenarios, emergency UAS will always have greater importance than other aircrafts.
NASA is the central technology developer, but these systems would not be applicable without other collaboration parties including the FAA. It is predicted that further testing will be handed off in the year of 2019 for safety inspections.
Learn more about NASA’s development at https://utm.arc.nasa.gov/index.shtml