On May 25, 2017, the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site and its NASA Partners flew five different Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) demonstrating multiple operational scenarios, including parachute initiated emergency supply deliveries and aerial survey operations. In addition to flying the specific NASA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) missions, the UAVs were flown beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight. This was accomplished using strategically placed visual observers (VO) and sophisticated Command and control (C2), communication, detect, and avoid technologies.
This NASA UTM test is part NASA’s research they are leading in close collaboration with the FAA and many industry partners. NASA and its partners are amid testing the next, more complex version of its UTM technologies with live, remotely-operated aircraft, or drones, at six different UAS Test Sites around the nation. The three-week campaign, known as Technology Capability Level 2 (TCL2) National Campaign, began May 9th with the Nevada UAS Test Site as the first UAS Test Site to begin UTM operations this year. The UTM National Campaign is focused on flying small drones beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight over sparsely populated areas near six of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Test Sites.
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 UAS Service Supplier (USS) network to NASA Ames.
“The highly successful test at the Nevada UAS Test Site kicked off the data collection for NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) National campaign in which six FAA UAS Test sites and many industry partners integrate their technologies with NASA’s UTM research platform and test the UTM concept in a range of conditions representative of those present in the US Airspace,” said Tom Prevot, UTM project manager.
NIAS was also supported by Del Air Tech and SensoFusion who provided UAS and drone detection UAS technologies, which were also tested during this NASA UTM TCL 2 Test.
Current testing of the UTM TCL 2 Test marks the second year in a row NASA has taken its UTM technologies on the road to further assess and refine their capabilities. During April 2016, NASA and its partners tested TCL1, which involved line-of-sight operations, and then began the first phase of TCL2 demonstrations in October 2016. Two more phases, TCL3 and TCL4, each progressively more complex and involving flying drones with specific tasks over increasingly populated areas are scheduled for 2018 and beyond.