NASA UTM Program Completes TCL 3 Testing at Nevada Drone Site

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In partnership with its NASA unmanned traffic management (UTM) partners, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), which manages the Nevada unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test site, recently conducted multiple drone tests over a weeklong period at the Nevada UAS test site at the Reno-Stead Airport.

The technology capability level 3 (TCL 3) testing focused on airspace management technologies seeking to enable the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

NASA provided a flight information management system research platform that will serve as a future prototype system for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use to coordinate with unmanned service suppliers (USS) operating throughout the nation. Research areas of emphasis during the testing included UAS ground control interfacing to locally manage operations, communication, navigation, surveillance, human factors, data exchange, network solutions, and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) architecture.

On media day, a team from the Reno Fire Department simulated an incident with a victim experiencing severe blood loss and needing an immediate transfusion. A multi-rotor UAS from Drone America was equipped with a container that held an actual packet of blood to be transported via drone.

High winds and frigid temperatures tested both the drone and those on the ground, but the drone successfully landed in the designated landing area so that firefighters could retrieve the blood packet and begin the faux-transfusion.

“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,” says Mike Richards, president and CEO of Drone America.

The partners not only demonstrated drone flight capability but also tested UAS traffic mapping, sensor and radar technology – all of which were connected through a NASA USS network to NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Other partners included the Nevada governor’s Office of Economic Development; Switch, a technology infrastructure ecosystem corporation; AiRXOS, a GE Venture that is helping accelerate the safe, efficient and scalable integration of air and ground space for autonomous and manned vehicles; Citadel, a technology company based out of San Diego; and ANRA Technologies, a provider of a drone operations and traffic management platform called DRONEOSS.

“NASA, the FAA and its partners, including NIAS, are working diligently to extend many of the beneficial applications of small UAS beyond the current limitations in an environment that embraces innovation and industry growth while respecting aviation safety traditions,” says Arwa Aweiss, NASA’s UTM TCL3 flight test director.

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