Page 9 - GCN, May 2016
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Drone traffic platform passes test flight
‘Textalyzer’ would check for distracted driving
Every day in the United States, an average of nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured in crashes that reportedly involve a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because texting is one of the big- gest causes of distracted driving, leg- islators in New York want to amend the law so that electronic devices can be field tested after an accident for evidence of their unlawful use while driving.
A “textalyzer” would help authori- ties determine whether someone in- volved in an accident was unlawfully texting while driving.
Such technology is being devel- oped by Cellebrite, the company that reportedly provided the technology that allowed the FBI to break into an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters. The company has already developed other solutions to gather mobile forensic data in the field.
Under the terms of New York’s proposed legislation, the textalyzer device would only be able to tell authorities the last time the phone was used and whether it was used in a hands-free mode. Cellebrite would be required to keep personal informa- tion such as conversations, contacts, numbers, photos and application data private. •
NASA took a big step toward institut- ing its traffic management platform for unmanned aerial systems with a first-of-its-kind test in April. Twenty- four drones were flown at six Federal Aviation Administration test sites, and 22 of them flew simultaneously at one point, NASA officials said.
The test of the cloud-based UAS traffic management (UTM) system was a first in several areas, including multisite testing of the UTM research platform, coordinated tests across the six FAA sites, live simultaneous flight tests, and live use of UTM displays and apps at each test site.
UTM monitors the locations of low-altitude drones, areas they should avoid, whether any other vehicles are trying to operate in the same airspace and what the weather will be like in a given area. Those participating in the test flights entered flight plans, and the UTM platform checked for conflicts and accepted or rejected the plans.
“NASA built the research platform and tested it on a local scale, but we needed the experience and expertise at each of the FAA test sites to exercise the platform in this geographically diverse way,” said Joseph Rios, flight test director and UTM technical lead. “Their efforts and skills in managing field deployments were pivotal to the success of this activity.”
The six locations at which the test flights were conducted were Fairbanks, Alaska; Grand Forks, N.D.; Reno, Nev.; Rome, N.Y.; Blacksburg, Va.; Bush-
wood, Md.; and Corpus Christi, Texas. NASA has been developing, testing
and implementing UTM with the FAA, which wants to regulate large-scale UAS integration into the national airspace. Last year, NASA successfully completed testing of the first of four UTM technology development stages when it demonstrated flying in rural environments, which includes flights associated with agriculture, firefight- ing and infrastructure monitoring.
Although some commercial UTMs are already available, NASA’s tests show progress in the gradual inte- gration of drones into the national airspace, which will be welcomed by drone enthusiasts and businesses seek- ing to capitalize on this burgeoning technology. •
Two members of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership participate in a test of NASA’s traffic management system for drones.
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