1:56 | June 19, 2018 | Transcript
The skies are about to get a lot more crowded. By 2022, the FAA predicts there will be around three million drones doing everything from package deliveries to disaster response or just flying for fun. But before they can share the skies, the FAA must develop a system for unmanned-aircraft traffic management or UTM for short. In other words, air traffic control for drones. “So the system is gonna have to accommodate many drones flying. And to be able to take in the data on what the operator, where they wanna fly, when they wanna fly and then things were flying what’s going on.” It’s a daunting challenge that NASA, the FAA and industry partners have been working on since 2015. Because the system has so many moving parts. It has to safely integrate thousands of piloted and autonomous drones from different companies flying at different altitudes and in different directions and most of these drones won’t be directly visible to the pilots. “And because of the different scale of it, it’s gotta be highly automated. I mean, there are the individual pilots that we want to have fly a mission. There will be companies like Amazon who will want to fly thousands of missions And not have a pilot for every one of those drones, right?” NASA is entering the final phase of testing with partners at seven different test sites around the country including the State of Nevada. “We partner with a lot of international and multinational corporations like Amazon Prime. So we focus specifically on testing aspects of communication, navigation and surveillance. And what that means is, how are drones gonna operate in rural and urban environments?” NASA is expecting to turn over technology and results to the FAA in 2019 that will set regulations. Because even when the sky’s the limit, someone has to set that limit.
In San Francisco, Lexie, cnet.com for CBS News.