Virginia Tech’s Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) has been selected to lead one of the teams participating in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) field test. The UTM field test is a research project designed to evaluate the technologies and standards being developed to safely coordinate and prioritize drone flights as drone activity in low airspace increases and expands across industries.
The MAAP UAS Test Site, as well as the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation at Texas A&M University’s Corpus Christi Test Site, and eight other technology companies are collaborating with the FAA and NASA on this project. While drone technology is capable and scalable, regulations are still evolving and UTM is far from complete.
The purpose of the research and testing is to create and develop better technology to safely protect flight paths and conduct priority flights. Safely managing drone traffic requires a variety of data sources transmitted through a variety of software platforms. Each of these technologies is developed by individual companies, with FAA oversight and evaluation through such research programs. To achieve success, there must be a diverse set of industry participants. UTM can only be successful if as many stakeholders as possible are involved.
Through test flights, these researchers and technologists investigate how to safely advance multiple UAS operations. The team hopes to find answers to questions about how to facilitate seamless connections between software from different companies. How to prioritize critical public safety and medical flights; and how to obtain information about drones so that public safety officials can use that information for security and law enforcement while still protecting the privacy rights of operators and others. Cybersecurity will be a central theme throughout these trials. When digital signals are transmitted between drones, drone operators, and software platforms, safeguards must be in place to protect sensitive information and ensure that operators and other participants are accurately representing their identities. This project and collaboration is another way to continue drone and UTM delivery.
Copyright © 2022 Robinson & Cole LLP. all rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 237