Loading articles...

NASA's first-of-kind tests look to manage drone in cities

In this Tuesday, May 21, 2019 photo, Ron Johnson, NASA's project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management, points to an image detailing airspace elevations in downtown Reno. Nev., where NASA conducted the first drone tests of their kind in an urban setting. A series of simulations are testing the emerging technology that someday will be used to manage travel of hundreds of thousands of commercial, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

RENO, Nev. — NASA has launched the final stage of a four-year effort to develop a national traffic management system for drones, testing them in cities for the first time beyond the operator’s line of sight.

Multiple drones took to the air at the same time above downtown Reno this week in a series of simulations testing emerging technology that someday will be used to manage hundreds of thousands of small unmanned commercial aircraft.

NASA officials say it’s the most complicated technical challenge they’ve faced since the simulations began in 2015.

Similar tests have been conducted in remote and rural areas. The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized individual test flights in cities before but never for multiple drones or outside the sight of the operator.

Scott Sonner, The Associated Press