NASA is flying drones at a Nevada airport to test air traffic control systems

Tests include tracking drones in real time and beyond the pilot’s line of sight.



NASA flew drones at the airport in Reno, Nev., yesterday, and when the drones were flying, the pilots couldn’t see them in the sky — which is illegal under the current federal drone rules.

It was part of a research project NASA is spearheading — in partnership with the FAA — to develop an unmanned air traffic control system, which will be critical to figure out before drones can deliver goods to people’s doorsteps.

That’s because drones don’t take off and land from the same place each time like airplanes, and drone pilots need to know where other aircraft are flying to avoid collisions or flying over restricted airspace.

The tests this week specifically trial how a mapping alert platform can track drones in real time, report flight paths and alert drones of unanticipated hazards, like a house fire or a public event where drones shouldn’t be overhead.

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