Drone Riders In The Sky: New Aerial Highway In The Works

The futuristic visions of flying cars or at least drone-delivery burritos need a place to begin. That place, claims scientist Dr. Parimal Kopardekar, is a well-defined aerial highway for drone traffic, aka the UTM (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Traffic Management System.)

Dr. Kopardekar, a rocket scientist who was NASA Ames Engineer of the Year 2003, is the principal investigator for this project, where low-level Class G airspace (anything up to 1,200 feet about ground level) will be organized to suit our little flying robot friends. As Dr. Kopardekar told www.dronelife.com, "We are basically creating this UAS traffic management system that allows you to accommodate the number of vehicles that will operate in the low altitude airspace. The analogy is ‘just because we have a car, whether it’s an autonomous car or someone is driving, does not negate the need for a road or stop signs or rules of the road.’ The same thing happens in the airspace. We need to have a structure."

Using GPS and geofencing, the drones will be hopefully be kept in line despite whatever their mission may be. Aerial photography, delivery services, weather reporting, and other elements will be made easier with this technology. The program is intended to be operational within five years.

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