NASA Government Invention of the Year 2020 goes to UTM

Today, NASA announces the winners of its 2020 Invention and Software of the Year Awards. The agency has created two categories and one of them, the ‘Government Invention of the Year’ goes to the invention of NASA’s patented Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management developed by a team at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California.

NASA Government Invention of the Year 2020 goes to UTM

On the NASA website, the agency announces that each year, through its Inventions and Contributions Board, NASA recognizes the efforts of its engineers, software developers, and collaborative partners by awarding Invention of the Year and Software of the Year awards.

NASA’s Invention of the Year includes two awards:

  • Government Invention of the Year
  • Commercial Invention of the Year

The ‘Commercial Invention of the Year’ award goes to RoboGlove and the ‘Government Invention of the Year’ is handed out to the invention of NASA’s patented Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management developed by a team at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California.

Preparing for More Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

NASA’s patented Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management invention could enable new package delivery methods, precision agriculture monitoring, disaster response, and more. Ames developed this new air traffic management system to accommodate the increasing number of commercially operated, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The UAV commercial fleet is only expected to grow, and current air traffic control capabilities cannot handle the estimated future demand. A new way of safely managing this traffic was needed.

Traditional air traffic management relies on a central body (like the Federal Aviation Administration) to manage and control the airspace. The innovative, cloud-based UAS Traffic Management, or UTM system, allows for distributed airspace management where private companies collaborate to maintain a safe and accessible environment. The vehicles can detect other drones in the area, share flight paths, and monitor weather and terrain conditions. The vehicles can transmit their purpose, so monitoring teams are aware of all low-altitude airspace entities.

This new system will allow for the growth of the UAV airspace while keeping both vehicles and people safe.

 

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Illustration: NASA

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Haye Kesteloo

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