Technology demo suggests how to keep drone traffic flowing smoothly
Over nearly a week of testing — a week that followed months of preparation and involved five types of aircraft, four aircraft software systems, more than 30 engineers, pilots, and operations experts, and 141 flights — the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and its partners sought to answer an increasingly urgent question: How can we effectively manage the diversity and volume of drone traffic we’re expecting?
The tests were part of a Federal Aviation Administration initiative known as the UAS Traffic Management Pilot Program, or UPP. The program, designed to help transition drone traffic management from the research phase toward commercial viability, is the latest stage of a long-term federal effort to facilitate the development of technology and protocols that are becoming imperative as commercial demand for drone use climbs.
Previous phases of the research, some of which was conducted at Virginia Tech, have been managed by NASA; now the program is transitioning to the FAA for implementation. This particular series of tests evaluated the maturity of the technology and yielded data that can guide the regulatory organization as they consider new policies for drone use.
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