Verizon and NASA team to monitor drones

NASA and Verizon team to monitor drones

The use of drones, or unmanned aerial systems, is skyrocketing in the United States. And more drones make for more crowded and potentially dangerous skies. 

Now, according to documents obtained by the Guardian, Verizon and NASA have joined forces to explore whether cell phone towers can support drone monitoring.

NASA is researching an air traffic control system to track civilian drones using radar, satellites or cell phone towers. Verizon, which has between 12,000 and 15,000 cell phone towers nationwide, will attempt to develop a method to monitor drones on its cellular network by 2017 with plans to have the technology “finalized” by 2019, the Guardian reported. In addition, Google and Amazon, which are both creating drone delivery systems, have signed agreements with NASA to test their systems at Ames Research Center.

The point of the project is to allow drones and commercial aircraft to be able to share the skies without incident as well as to keep civilian drones from sensitive or restricted airspace or flying into buildings. Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Authority released a set of proposals for regulating civilian drones that limit drones to 55 pounds, 100 mph speeds and that they fly within site of the pilot. According to a Washington Post investigation conducted last year, there were 15 cases between 2012 and 2014 where civilian drones flew dangerously close to an airport or an aircraft.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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