Nasa will demonstrate technology that will allow drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to fly side by side with other commercial aircraft and share airspace in 2020.
As of now, there are strict restrictions for drones and other UAVs to fly in certain areas, especially around airports, military installations and even over large crowds. The military can also seize or destroy consumer drones it considers a threat.
The report, published by military aerospace (MA) points out that Nasa wants to integrate the unmanned aerial system (UAS) with the national airspace (NAS) system and an industry workshop for this has been planned on 30 November.
Nasa has issued a "sources sought notice" – a synopsis posted by a government agency that states they are seeking possible sources for a project– for this integration project.
The report points out that without adequate safeguards, government officials fear that drones pose an "unacceptable risk of collision" with commercial aircraft, especially around busy airports. There have been numerous incidents of drones flying dangerously close to aircrafts near airports before, but it has been found that there is no real risk of head injuries by small drones.
The UAS- NAS project is working toward safely bringing unmanned aircraft into the national airspace since its inception in 2011, notes the MA report. Apart from setting standards, the project is also working on actual tech that can make this integration possible.
Nasa outlines the project's goal- "To provide research findings to reduce technical barriers associated with integrating UAS into the NAS utilizing integrated system level tests in a relevant environment."
Focus, says the MA report, is on detect-and-avoid and command and control technologies which will result in a full, performance-based drone access to the NAS. A demonstration of these technologies will take place in the summer of 2020.
The demonstration will make use of drones that are above 55 pounds, at an altitude of over 500 feet – these are the restrictions currently in place by the FAA – which is considered to be controlled airspace. Results of this demo will aid in the crafting of regulations, says the report. Nasa will compile this information in a publically accessible toolkit.
Nasa has said the workshop will be geared toward- aircraft manufacturers, avionics and sensor integrators, communications providers, employees of government test sites, aviation service providers, and others who are interested in testing unmanned aircraft technologies, according to the report.