A team from Nasa’s Ames Research Center, along with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other industry partners, has successfully conducted  ‘out-of-sight’ drone tests at Reno-Stead Airport in Reno, Nevada.

The test aimed to enhance drones flying beyond the visual line of sight in US national airspace.

During the test, two drones flew beyond their commanders’ lines of sight, while other unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) were separated by altitude and within sight of their operators.

Nasa’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management (UTM) research platform was used to obtain information about the drones’ locations and proximity to other air traffic and hazards.

The UTM also informed other airspace users of potential hazards and conflicting operations that could affect their flights.

Nasa Ames Research Center Air Transportation Systems lsenior engineer Dr. Parimal Kopardekar said: “We are very happy with the test.

“We have completed all our test goals, in terms of the number of scenarios and data collection toward operations beyond visual line of sight.

"We have completed all our test goals, in terms of the number of scenarios and data collection toward operations beyond visual line of sight."

“The test was possible due to a very good collaboration among partners and Nasa.”

Additionally, the test also demonstrated UTM’s technical capability level 2 (TCL2) by connecting real drone-tracking systems to the research platform.

UTM provided alerts for approaching drones and piloted aircraft, as well as informed the pilots about weather and other hazards.

Nasa is planning to test UTM’s technical capability level three by January 2018.

The test will assess tracking procedures to manage drones and ensure safe manned and unmanned operations over moderately populated areas.


Image: Drone Co-habitation Services operates a Phantom 3 commercial multi-rotor unmanned aircraft in Nevada test. Photo: courtesy of NASA Ames / Dominic Hart.