NASA UTM Program Completes TCL 3 Testing

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The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), who manages the Nevada UAS Test Sites, and its NASA Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) partners flew multiple Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS or drones) over a week-long testing period at the Nevada UAS Test Site at the Reno-Stead Airport. The testing focused on airspace management technologies that will enable the safe integration of UAS into the NAS.

NASA provided a Flight Information Management System (FIMS) research platform that will serve as a future prototype system for the FAA to use to coordinate with Unmanned Service Supplier’s (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 BVLOS architecture.

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

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 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.

“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,” said GOED Executive Director Paul Anderson. “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.”

“Advanced flight and highly technical scenarios like drone detection, surveillance of critical infrastructure, aerial package delivery of critical first responder medical supplies, to the important NASA data interoperability protocols that will eventually form the backbone of the UTM system, we focused heavily on communications, navigation, and surveillance to produce critical data for the NASA TCL 3 Campaign,” said Dr. Chris Walach, the Senior Director of NIAS and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site.  “Our Nevada Teammates did an amazing job working together to successfully complete the first series of major testing for NASA’s TCL 3 Campaign,” said Walach.

“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,” said Arwa Aweiss, NASA’s UTM TCL3 Flight Test Director.

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“We are proud that, since its inception, NIAS calls Rob Roy’s Innevation Center home, said Adam Kramer, Executive Vice President of Strategy at Switch. “Switch supports GOED, NIAS, and our other partner companies and agencies in our efforts to lead the nation in unmanned traffic management, advanced flight and delivery systems and public safety operations experimentation. Rob Roy built Switch’s world class technology infrastructure in anticipation of exactly the kind of innovations represented by advances in the UAV industry.”

“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.” said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America.

“We’re so happy to have been a part of this event with NASA, the FAA, and NIAS as it took us closer to a real UTM solution for safe integration of drones into the National Airspace System,” said Amit Ganjoo, CEO of ANRA Technologies. “This was the first real world attempt where multiple USS platforms were integrated to manage and de-conflict UAS operations simultaneously in the same region.  Achieving this is a significant accomplishment and we are excited to have played a central role in this exercise along with the other participants.”

“Citadel would like to thank NIAS for organizing the NASA UTM TCL3 event.  Over a week of action, Citadel was able to help test its system to ensure the safe integration of drones into the National Airspace System.  Civilian safety is something we take seriously at Citadel and it was our pleasure to showcase a technology that can fit into the overall technology stack that will be used to manage the national airspace,” said Daniel Magy, CEO of Citadel Threat Management.

“AiRXOS is proud to continue our participation in the TCL trials with NASA, the FAA, and NIAS to help demonstrate the future of dynamic airspace management in an interconnected UTM system.  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,” said, Scot Campbell, Staff Autonomy Scientist, AiRXOS.

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