NASA, Nevada Institute to Test Drones in Downtown Reno
Drones will be buzzing around parts of downtown Reno the next two weeks for urban testing by NASA and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.
Drones will be buzzing around parts of downtown Reno the next two weeks for urban testing by NASA and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems
Reno officials announced Tuesday that the city is helping to facilitate the testing, which will be conducted in the downtown area May 11-24 and result in some road closures and pedestrian restrictions.
According to the city's announcement, NASA earlier this year selected the Las Vegas-based institute to participate in drone operations that will test flying in higher-density urban areas.
Specific areas for testing and related restrictions include Idlewild Park, City Plaza and portions of Virginia Street and Keystone Avenue.
Officials said public viewing areas are limited. Suggested viewing locations are in Idlewild Park from Cowan Drive or the Snowflake Pavilion.
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The FAA, Department of Transportation, and NASA have all selected the state of Nevada to test the integration of drones into our airspace.
Previously, testing for the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems only took place in rural areas.
However, for the first time in U.S. aviation history, drones will fly beyond the pilot's visual line of sight in a metropolitan area, specifically the heart of downtown Reno.
"This will serve as the foundational effort of what unmanned traffic management will become around the U.S. and around the world,” says David Hansell, the public policy manager with DJI.
The tests will be different from the recreational drone flights that many people do as a hobby. Rather than flying for fun, these flights will test how drones can safely become a part of our everyday air traffic for important daily tasks.
“We're closer to package delivery than people realize,” says Chris Walach, the executive director of the NIAS. “Passenger drone travel, that's being tested every month here in Nevada and across the country.”
Despite the benefits that can come from these tests, there will also likely be a set of challenges and difficulties. After all, operating above people and near tall buildings is much different than taking flight in a remote setting.
“When you operate in the city, communications are affected, navigation is affected and surveillance is affected,” says Walach.
Reno is partnering with the top drone manufacturer in the country for these tests. In doing so, the city is also accepting two important pieces of technology that will help to monitor all the activity happening in the Nevada airspace during flights.
“The FAA’s main concern is keeping the general public and the flying public safe,” says Hansell.
To ensure that everything goes according to plan on the ground and in the air during the tests, NIAS will use an advanced DJI drone for aerial inspection and a monitoring system called AeroScope.
“It's able to detect the majority DJI drones that are flying within its operational radius and display those to the operators on the ground,” says Hansell.