NASA researchers are developing an air traffic management system that will work to monitor drones that fly up to 500 feet above the ground, the New York Times reported Monday.
Conor Dougherty writes that NASA’s ATC development program comes as several technology companies experiment with the use of unmanned aircraft for delivery services.
Google recently unveiled an experimental drone delivery service, dubbed Project Wing, and released a video that shows a half-plane, half-helicopter dropping dog treats to an Australian farmer, according to the newspaper.
Amazon proposed a Prime Air service offering in late 2013 that is aimed at using drones to deliver packages one day.
Dr. Parimal Kopardekar, a NASA principal investigator, told the newspaper he expects initial commercial applications of drones in the U.S. to focus on the agricultural and asset monitoring areas, according to Dougherty’s article.
“In agriculture, I’m hoping we will see some action inside of the next year,” Kopardekar told the Times.
He believes it would take years before industry could make drone-based delivery services available in both rural and urban areas.
“There is the technology piece and then there is the public acceptance piece, and both have to evolve,” he added, according to the newspaper.