In an effort to ensure the safe and efficient operations of UAS, NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) project has selected the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation (LSUASC) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to test UAS traffic management.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is one of just two test sites selected in the nation for this testing.

“This series of tests is a critical step in enabling the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems within an urban environment,” says Mike Sanders, acting executive director of the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation.

“We look forward to working with NASA’s Ames Research Center, the City of Corpus Christi and its first responders, the Corpus Christi International Airport, the Port of Corpus Christi, as well as the many partners across Texas and the United States.”

Testing, which is expected to begin this summer, will focus on a variety of areas, including UAS communication, collision avoidance, safe landing, services that support UAS operations, and safety in an urban landscape.

According to NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, this year is the fourth and final chapter in a series of testing UAS technology. Each year has brought about an increase in complexity.

“Our (program) represents the most complicated demonstration of advanced UAS operating in a demanding urban environment that will have been tested to date,” says Ronald Johnson, NASA UTM project manager.

“For the commercial drone industry to really advance, they need to see the results of this testing to understand the opportunities and challenges posed by flying in an environment where communications, GPS navigation, micro weather, tall buildings, and community acceptance all present hurdles to everyday, safe operation.”

NASA’s UTM project and the FAA work together to conduct field demonstrations of small UAS to fully and safely access low-altitude airspace in support of civil and business opportunities.

The UTM project is under the Airspace Operations and Safety Program within the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, with researchers at NASA’s Ames, Glenn, and Langley research centers.