As drone delivery finally starts to gain serious traction in the United States, (largely due to some approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration), look toward Reno, Nevada for some of the most serious progress.
Reno, Nevada is one of just 10 state, local and tribal governments selected by the FAA to be a part of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program. It is also home to the headquarters of drone delivery company Flirtey, which recently secured approval to fly their drones beyond visual line of site at the FAA test site in Reno, Nevada.
The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) is responsible for the management of the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site and is one of two FAA-designated UAS Test Sites in the country to lead the NASA UTM TCL 4 and one of three to lead the FAA’sUAS Traffic Management Pilot Program (UPP).
“The City of Reno will soon advance Urban Air Mobility (UAM) like no other city in the U.S. and…is a key Nevada entity toward developing safe urban drone operations,” according to a prepared statement from drone maker DJI.
But drone delivery is about more than just delivering drones. There’s unmanned traffic management (UTM), which is essentially air traffic control for drones. And this month, NASA is flying drones in partnership with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems in Las Vegas in and around downtown Reno, to test out their designs.
“This phase represents the most complicated demonstration of advanced UAS operating in a demanding urban environment that will have been tested to date,” said Ronald Johnson, NASA’s UTM project manager, in a prepared statement.
And then there’s the system of remote identification, essentially creating license plates for drones. The problem is, tiny license plates in the air aren’t quite as effective as a license plate you can read on the back of a car. Thus, companies are working on forms of remote identification to track drones and tie them to their owners.
And DJI is trying to get in on Reno’s success. The company this month donated its DJI M210 RTK professional drone and AeroScope system to the team in Reno, allowing them to remotely identify and monitor airborne drones during some of Reno’s drone trials.
The Matrice 210 RTK drone is a professional-grade drone designed for tasks such as aerial inspection, surveying, search and rescue. The AeroScope remote identification system can monitor all DJI drones in a designated area. From there, it can display their locations, their pilots’ locations and their serial numbers on a map.
By the way, there’s another fun drone event happening not too far from Reno, Nevada, later this year. The 2019 Lincoln County Photo Festival will host a drone workshop this year, and it will be led by yours truly, The Drone Girl. The photo festival is supported by the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) and the Lincoln County Authority of Tourism (LCAT).