The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), in partnership with NASA UTM, conducted multiple drone tests at the Nevada UAS test site at the Reno-Stead Airport. The technology capability level 3 (TCL 3) focused on airspace management technologies seeking to enable the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace Systems. The research areas during the testing covered UAS ground control interfacing to locally manage operations, communication, navigation, surveillance, human factors, data exchange, network solutions and BVLOS architecture. "The state of Nevada will be known for its significant contribution in this journey through its pioneering work with the FAA, NASA and private partners like ourselves, facilitating safe and effective integration into national airspace," says Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America. NASA, FAA and its partners, and NIAS are working on the innovations and the industry growth while respecting aviation safety traditions.
If you can't wait for the day drones plop packages on your porch or a flying car whisks you to work, you should know that the hold-up isn't technological, but technocratic. Before these future flyers can take off, they must learn to play by the rules of the sky. That means communicating with air traffic control and other aircraft, spotting and avoiding threats, and generally knowing what to do when things go sideways. Making all of this happen demands whole new levels of capability--not just from the aircraft, but from the sprawling system that oversees them. The good news is, change is coming.
An independent drone delivery company called Flirtey (presumably because they're flirting with the ire of shotgun toting reactionaries) successfully completed the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the United States. The STEM robot wars are heating up. Cubetto is the latest reason why you wish you were still a kid. In an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nevada, the company successfully delivered a package that included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit by drone. The test was performed at one of six FAA-designated Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Sites, and the Flirtey operation is investigating rescue and crisis response in disaster-prone areas.
In the Looney Tunes show, the Roadrunner character is infamous for his speedy escapes from his arch nemesis, Wild. Now, a team of drone experts who named themselves after the fast-running cartoon character have lived up to the name, setting a new record for long-distance drone delivery. Team Roadrunner managed to fly a fixed-wing drone 97 miles (156km) over Texas this week, using cellular connectivity. Team Roadrunner used a combination of a mobile command and control, a visual observer team and stationary visual observers equipped with radios to fly the UAV. The drone launched from a central Texas location, and flew a pre-planned route through the National Airspace System.
President Trump and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program today -- an initiative aimed at exploring expanded use of drones. While the Obama administration began allowing some drone activity to take place in US airspace, a fair amount of restrictions were still applicable. This new program, however, will allow companies and local governments to use drones in ways that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently doesn't allow. That includes "beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights, nighttime operations, and flights over people," as White House advisor Michael Kratsios said today. "This program supports the President's commitment to foster technological innovation that will be a catalyst for ideas that have the potential to change our day-to-day lives.