NASA Developing Air Traffic Control System For Drones


After Google made news last week when it announced its top secret drone delivery program, Project Wing, and last year’s announcement of the Amazon Prime Air drone delivery service, The New York Times is reporting that NASA is developing an air traffic control system for drones.

The new drone traffic management program is aimed at patrolling the skies for drones and other aircraft flying at a height of 400-500 feet. As the popularity of drones for commercial uses continues to increase, so does the need for some sort of “rules of the air” that will ultimately need to be approved by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

Unlike a traditional air traffic control system where people constantly scan radars, NASA’s goal is to do away with manual labor and have the entire program be managed by computers and algorithms that take into account weather patterns such as heavy winds, buildings, power lines, and other low-flying aircraft such as news helicopters and other drones.

Parimal H. Kopardekar, a NASA principal investigator, believes that the first commercial application for drones will be for asset monitoring of agricultural crops and oil fields, eventually expanding to drone delivery in remote sparsely populated regions like rural Australia.

As we mentioned in our article on Google’s drone delivery program, drones are no longer the future as demonstrated by the private market’s interest in developing the technology.

Regardless, the future is here and drone delivery will happen in whatever form the market determines to be the safest, most efficient, and most profitable. Businesses and customers will benefit from this new technology the most as it’s anticipated to cut delivery time down to a minute. -Philip Nowak, Founder of Firmology

Now it’s up to the regulators to come up with rules and regulations that protect, but don’t stymie the progress of a new method of transporting light goods and providing services like aerial photography and video footage.

Image: iStock

About The Author

Philip Nowak is the founder of Firmology, technology focused news and insight for small businesses and online startups. He honed his entrepreneurial chops while working for his family’s Chicago-based window manufacturing business. Philip graduated from Indiana University with a BA in Economics.