NASA’s Collaborative Plan for Traffic Management Solution for All UAS

August 11, 2015

Details of NASA’s efforts to create an air-traffic management system were unveiled July 28-30, 2015 at NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) Convention. Under the leadership of Dr. Parimal Kopardekar, NASA Safe Autonomous System Operations Project Manager and UTM Principal Investigator, NASA is undertaking a collaborative approach to test and demonstrate a UTM system that accommodates all UAS users in low altitude airspace.

Mr. Kopardekar’s presentation at the Convention identified two goals: in the short term, to safely enable initial low-altitude UAS as early as possible; and, in the long term, to accommodate increased demand with high safety, efficiency, and capacity. The UTM system will need to balance multiple needs, including national and regional security, safe airspace integration, and scalable operations for economic growth. NASA plans to continue to work with industry, academia, and government groups to refine operational requirements, system architecture(s), and prototypes and to conduct tests to ensure that safe airspace integration can be accomplished.

Mr. Kopardekar plans four “builds,” or regimes for managing UAS traffic that will be rolled out in phases. The first build begins in August 2015 with reservation of airspace volume. The second build, in October 2016, anticipates enabling beyond visual line-of-sight operations in sparsely populated areas. Build three would permit such operations over moderately populated areas and involve UAS tracking, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and control of UAS via internet connectivity. The fourth and final build would occur in March 2019 and allow UAS to fly over urban and high density areas.

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