NASA conducts the toughest test yet for drone traffic control

It and the FAA had to juggle 22 drones at once.

Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science

If you think piloting a drone is tricky, try managing a swarm of them in the sky at once -- it'll be a small wonder if there isn't a collision. However, NASA and the FAA managed just that. They've completed the most complex test yet of a drone traffic management system, handling 22 drones at once (24 total) in several locations over the space of 3 hours. As if that weren't enough, the testers also put "dozens" of virtual aircraft into the fray.

It's still early days for the system, so don't expect skies chock-full of drones in the near future. Should everything work out, though, it could be crucial to taking drones mainstream. In the countryside, it could help coordinate everything from farming to firefighting. It could also help in urban areas, where there isn't a lot of breathing room above the streets. You probably won't have to deal with one of these systems first-hand, but it could help a lot if it helps a delivery drone reach you on time.