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NASA Completes Third Phase UTM Testing at FAA-Certified Nevada Site

The Nevada UAS test site | NIAS
The Nevada UAS test site | NIAS

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NASA Completes Third Phase UTM Testing at FAA-Certified Nevada Site

The State of Nevada is one of only seven sites in the United States to be officially designated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a test site for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones.

In a recent trial carried out over one week, a team of scientists and researchers tested the air safety and viability of multiple drones with a focus on the management of the technology in airspace.

The Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), which manages the Nevada UAS Test Sites, and its NASA Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) partners conducted the tests at the Reno-Stead Airport where the test site is located.

“The State of Nevada will be known for its significant contribution in this journey through its pioneering work with the FAA, NASA and private partners like ourselves, facilitating safe and effective integration into National Airspace.”

Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America

A research platform known as Flight Information Management System (FIMS) was provided by NASA which could possibly serve as a future prototype system for the FAA to use. This would hopefully be used to coordinate with Unmanned Service Supplier’s (USS) operating throughout the nation.

Particular areas of research and interest during the tests included UAS ground control interfacing to locally manage operations, communication, navigation, surveillance, human factors, data exchange, network solutions, and BVLOS (beyond-visual-line-of-sight) architecture.

The researchers demonstrated the technology on a media day, where a team from the Reno Fire Department simulated an incident with a victim experiencing severe blood loss and was in need of an immediate transfusion.

For this demo a multi-rotor UAS from Drone America was equipped with a container which held a packet of blood to be transported via drone in Nevada.

Despite the inclement weather, where high winds and frigid temperatures tested both the drone and those on the ground, the drone successfully landed in the designated landing area enabling the firefighters to retrieve the blood packet and begin the exercise of the ‘mock transfusion’.

The teamwork demonstrated not only the drone flight capability, but also tested UAS traffic mapping, sensor and radar technology all of which were connected through a NASA UAS Service Supplier (USS) network to NASA Ames, a major research center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Paul Anderson, Director of the Nevado GOED (Government Office of Economic Development) states that the pioneering effort between the team players provides proof that Nevada is at the forefront of developments in the UAS industry.

He believes the role Nevada plays in developing and advancing such life-changing and life-saving technology, along with the experience and expertise located there, is without comparison.

“This pioneering work with NASA and the FAA offers further proof that if it is happening in the UAS industry, it is happening here in Nevada. With the entire state designated by the FAA as one of only seven UAS test sites in the United States, the role Nevada plays in advancing this life-changing and life-saving technology is truly unique and the experience and expertise located here is unmatched.”

GOED Executive Director Paul Anderson

Dr. Chris Walach, the Senior Director of NIAS and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site, agreed, saying, “Our Nevada Teammates did an amazing job working together to successfully complete the first series of major testing for NASA’s TCL 3 Campaign.”

Walach also says highly advanced technical advanced flight scenarios such as drone detection, surveillance of critical infrastructure, and aerial package delivery of critical medical supplies will provide NASA with important data which could ultimately form the backbone of the UTM system.

Arwa Aweiss, NASA’s UTM TCL3 Flight Test Director, says NASA, the FAA and partners including the NIAS, are working hard to extend many of the benefits of small UAS beyond the current limitations in an environment which embraces innovation and industry growth while respecting aviation safety and traditions.

Adam Kramer, Executive Vice President of Strategy at Switch says their company supports GOED, NIAS, and their other partner companies, in particular Rob Roy’s Innovation Center, a Las Vegas company which fosters start-up companies and new technology and is affiliated to Switch. Rob Roy built Switch’s ‘world class technology infrastructure’ in anticipation of the innovations already being seen in the developing UAV field.

Source: NIAS

Source: NIAS

Amit Ganjoo, CEO of ANRA Technologies says these tests were the first attempt where multiple USS platforms were integrated to manage and de-conflict UAS operations simultaneously in the same region. He says this was a significant accomplishment and they are excited to have played a central role in the exercise.

Daniel Magy, CEO of Citadel Threat Management says they were grateful for the opportunity to test its system in order to ensure the safe integration of drones into the NAS, something they are very serious about and they were pleased to be given the opportunity to showcase their technology.

Scot Campbell, Staff Autonomy Scientist at AiRXOS, a UAS company says they were also proud to participate in the TCL tests and help demonstrate the future of dynamic airspace management in an interconnected UTM system. He too believes in the importance of the program.

“The safe integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) is critical to the future of airspace management and the TCL3 flight trails are a critical step in realizing a truly scalable, integrated and safe drone ecosystem,” he said.

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