NASA Completes UTM Testing

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NASA and the FAA recently completed the final phase of a 5-year research project aimed at developing an air traffic control system for drones. For five years, NASA has been testing its Unmanned Air Traffic Management System (UTM) concept in phases, with the final phase concluding August 23rd in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Corpus Christi demonstration was focused on advanced drone operations at altitudes between 200 feet and 400 feet within a dense city environment.

City landscapes present unique challenges to drone traffic management, including:

  • more obstacles to avoid,
  • specific weather and wind conditions,
  • reduced lines of sight,
  • reduced ability to communicate by radio,
  • and fewer safe landing locations.

The Pittsburgh-based company, Near Earth Autonomy, provided a drone with a sensing/computing payload for handling contingencies requiring emergency autonomous landing. Near Earth’s drone was able to land successfully over 25 times during the demonstration. Learn more about the autonomous landing system and NASA's UTM research in our recent article: Near Earth Autonomy Helps NASA Open the Skies for Drones

Comment below to share your thoughts on how NASA and its partners are addressing the challenges many of you face when operating drones in urban environments.

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