NASA Tests Unmanned Aircraft Management Design at Reno-Stead Air - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

NASA Tests Unmanned Aircraft Management Design at Reno-Stead Airport

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Nevada has been a hub for drone research and on Wednesday a big milestone was tested. Flying them beyond the line of sight. Flying five different drones all at once for anything from public safety to package delivery can be chaotic. 

"Going to need some mechanism to manage this traffic," said Joseph Rios of NASA. 

Which is where NASA's new project comes into play. Think air traffic control but for drones. Phase two includes testing some new features, mainly in a rural environment with the aircraft flying beyond the line of sight.

We got introduced to the lab itself in phase one.

"How do you keep the airspace safe? How do you keep it efficient? How do you keep the access fair?" said Rios. 

A good communication system is key. Through radar and cameras we can see where each drone takes off and where they fly. They have several monitors to look at, but one specific monitor shows each of the aircraft's flight plans and any warnings that may pop up. 

"How do you start to handle contingencies? If there is a problem in the system how does that alerting occur? How do people know there is a problem," said Rios. 

All of the data from Wednesday's test will then be used for further research. The University of Nevada, Reno is playing a big role as well.

"What you see today is the result of several months of work in the background in order to bring the project so important like this to Nevada," said E. Manos Maragakis from the College of Engineering. 

The lab itself that houses the data is located at the Reno-Stead airport.

"We have engineers but also opportunities for grad students to do their masters even Ph.D. to projects like this," added Maragakis. 

Since there isn't a current communication system in place for unmanned aircraft, NASA has a blank sheet to test around and see what works.
They hope to have one finished and developed before a challenge arises.

Their next phase of research includes testing the aircraft management system in a more suburban environment. 

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