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But before that happens, they'll need a system in place to avoid crashing into each other - or worse, passenger aircraft.
NASA, along with the Federal Aviation Administration and an extensive list of industry partners, has been researching the requirements needed to establish a drone traffic management system. This summer, some of those ideas will be tested in the field.
Unlike the current air traffic management system, this one won’t rely on human controllers in towers who bark instructions to incoming and outgoing aircraft. Instead, drone operators will use an electronic system to get access to constraint notifications and input flight information. And they will be expected to follow the rules.
Eventually, the system will be autonomous.
“We needed to look at things that can be done cost-effectively, can be done safely,” said Parimal Kopardekar, principal investigator at NASA for unmanned aerial systems traffic management.
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