NASA selects sites for drone traffic management tests


NASA has selected two locations for the final testing of its drone traffic management system.

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems in Las Vegas and the Lone Star UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Center for Excellence and Innovation in Corpus Christi, Texas, will host demonstrations to confirm NASA’s UAS  Traffic Management (UTM) system can safely and effectively manage drone traffic in an urban area.

The drone flights will take place in and around downtown Reno, Nevada between March and June, and Corpus Christi during July and August this year.

The flights will be the last tests to be conducted for the four-year development program of the UTM.

Ronald Johnson, NASA’s UTM project manager said, “This phase represents the most complicated demonstration of advanced UAS operating in a demanding urban environment that will have been tested to date.”

NASA hopes to solve some of the problems faced by commercial drone operators when  flying in an urban environment. Results of the flight tests also will help inform future rules, policies and traffic management procedures for operating drones safely over populated areas.

Technologies to be demonstrated include: airspace regulator Flight Information Management System, the UAS Service Supplier interface for multiple independent UAS traffic management service providers, and their interface with vehicle integrated detect-and-avoid capabilities, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and collision avoidance, and automated safe landing technologies.

“We are very excited to partner with NASA on such an important program that will have a significant innovative impact on the global UAS Industry,” said Chris Walach, the Nevada organization’s senior director.

Mike Sanders, acting executive director of the Texas organization, said, “This series of tests is a critical step in enabling the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems within an urban environment.”

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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