NASA starts trials of advanced urban drone and UTM operations in Reno

On 20 and 21 May NASA entered the final stage of testing its NASA UTM platform as part of the Technical Capability Level (TCL) 4 drone operation managed by the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS). The trials comprised flying drones on higher-density urban areas beyond line of sight.

According to the agency:

“From May through August 2019, the final (technology capability) level will study how the UTM system can integrate drones into urban areas. Along with a larger population, city landscapes present their own challenges: more obstacles to avoid, specific weather and wind conditions, reduced lines of sight, reduced ability to communicate by radio and fewer safe landing locations. TCL4 will test new ways to address these hurdles using the UTM system and technologies onboard the drones. These include incorporating more localized weather predictions into flight planning, using cell phone networks to enhance drone traffic communications and relying on cameras, radar and other ways of “seeing” to ensure drones can maneuver around buildings and land when needed – all while communicating with other drones and users of the UTM system.

“After the research is completed and results are compiled, NASA will then transfer the findings to the FAA for implementation.”

Several UTM companies have been involved in the trials, including AiRXOS (GE Aviation), AirMap, ANRA Technologies and RelmaTech.

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