Scientists develop software for drone traffic management

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Mariella Moon
August 7, 2015 11:50 AM
In this article: drone, nasa, UAV, universityofnevada
Scientists develop software for drone traffic management

It's all systems go for NASA Ames' Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management project. One of its partner organizations participating in the program's initial phase is the University of Nevada, Reno, where a team of researchers has already created the software to make it possible. If you're wondering, the initiative aims to establish a feasible system that can manage the flow of traffic for unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, planes and gliders that fly 500 feet and below. The team's software will serve as the connection between UAVs/other aircraft and the traffic system NASA's developing.

According to Richard Kelley, the group's lead scientist, they (everyone involved in the project, that is) "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 will load his software on a drone in the coming months and will begin conducting test flights while connected to a NASA server and under the space agency's supervision. That means he's not only testing his software, but NASA's traffic system itself.

Now that more and more organizations and industries (like farming, fishing and film) are finding new uses for UAVs -- not to mention, people are now more open to buying them -- low-altitude airspace could become very busy in the future. A proper traffic management program can help avoid collisions and ultimately keep everyone safe.

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