Drone Tests To Expand
Military drones will soon be mixing it up with regular air traffic in up to 10 "airspace bubbles" the FAA and Department of Defense are creating to test and prove the safety of integration of unmanned aerial systems. According to AOL Defense the plan is contained in the proposed FAA reauthorization bill that will be back before Congress in September and is designed to show that UASs can safely operate in "heavily-traveled commercial airspace in all conditions across the United States."
The roadblock to UAS integration so far has been the lack of autonomous sense-and-avoid systems on the drones, and the unmanned aircraft flying in the bubbles won't have it either. Instead, ground-based sources of traffic information, like ATC radar data, will be transmitted to the drones which will, in turn, relay it to the ground-based pilot. The pilot will use the information to maintain separation. Later tests will involve semi-automated sense-and-avoid systems. There's been no decision on where the test areas will be located but it's likely at least some of them will be near existing UAS test areas.