VIENNA, Va. Engineers at AT&T in Vienna, Virginia, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Washington are researching air traffic management (ATM) solutions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The goal is an unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) solution that supports the safe and highly secure operation of UAS, also called drones, in the national airspace system (NAS).
AT&T officials discussed the endeavor at UTM Convention 2016, an Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) event, in Syracuse, New York, this week.
"Working with NASA and others, we are designing the management system for a new frontier in aviation," explains Mike Leff, vice president, civilian, AT&T Global Public Sector Solutions. "[UAS] are already used in agriculture, public safety, construction, utilities, real estate, and TV. This research can help support the commercial and private use of [UAS] nationwide."
AT&T has been working with NASA and other companies to make UAS flight path monitoring, flight planning, navigation, surveillance, and tracking safer. The engineers have focused on the role of wireless networking and advanced technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, identity management, and cybersecurity.
A key element AT&T and NASA are researching is the potential impact of cybersecurity threats. The vast availability of UAS, and their many current and potential uses, could increase the risk of cyberattacks. AT&T advocates cybersecurity protections designed into the system from the outset.
AT&T will continue to participate in NASA demonstrations, workshops, and studies related to airspace operations concepts and technologies.
AT&T has implemented a national drone program, using UAS to inspect cell towers and measure network performance at venues and locations across the country. Chris Penrose, president of AT&T's Internet of Things Solutions, is a member of the FAA's Drone Advisory Committee, which identifies and advises actions to support the safe introduction of UAS into the U.S. national airspace.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) helps millions around the globe connect with entertainment, mobile, high-speed Internet, and voice services.
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