NASA Aims to Establish Traffic Rules for Low-Flying Drones

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NASA is looking for partners to collaborate on a traffic management system for drones, according to recently filed documents. "Currently, there is no established infrastructure to enable and safely manage the widespread use of low-altitude airspace," NASA explained in a fact sheet (PDF) outlining the proposal. Drones and remotely guided small craft like those used by hobbyists have no awareness of each other, and may not be able to avoid each other or things like power lines or high winds. NASA aims to create a system to track and manage the growing number of craft in the air.

The proposed UTM (Unmanned aerial system Traffic Management) project is still in early stages, despite work form NASA along these lines for more than a decade. For now the plan is to work with aircraft makers, aviation experts, makers of sensors and software, and generally anyone who has something to contribute to the idea. There's no set timeline, but the first tests could occur as early as mid-2015.



—Devin Coldewey