Drone control: Verizon’s cell phone towers could be used in NASA plan to monitor drones

verizon next gen tv
We already know about NASA working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to build technology to create an air traffic control system for the growing number of drones taking to the skies.

The latest news is that Verizon is joining the effort with a plan to use its cell towers to take that technology to the next level.

Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal the telecom giant signed a deal with NASA last year “to jointly explore whether cell towers….could support communications and surveillance of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at low altitudes.”

The government agency’s work on a monitoring system for drones is already underway at its research base in Silicon Valley, while the potential for Verizon’s cell towers to be used as part of that system is expected to be tested in 2017, with plans to complete trials by 2019.

Besides monitoring the location of remotely controlled quadcopters and the like, NASA reportedly also wants its technology to incorporate geo-fencing to stop drones from flying over high-security locations. In addition, it wants to be able to automatically ground the remotely controlled machines in adverse weather conditions, and even prioritize one drone over another should the airspace become particularly busy.

The documents also revealed that AT&T has shown an interest in the drone management project. The telecom firm joined a “very well attended” workshop put on by NASA earlier this year that outlined the plan for the air traffic control system.  However, the agency said in the papers that up to now, “only Verizon has stepped forward to pursue collaboration with NASA regarding the potential use of cell towers.”

The project clearly has a long way to go, though bringing on board the U.S.’s biggest carrier certainly highlights the seriousness and scale of NASA’s drone-based plan.

In February the FAA released a list of proposed regulations for the commercial use of drones. These include a 55-pound limit for the machines, a daylight-only operation restriction, and a required UAS operator certificate. A speed limit of 100 mph and altitude limit of 500 feet have also been proposed.

A 60-day consultation period ended in April after collecting more than 4,500 comments from the public. The final rules are scheduled to be in place by September, though it’s not certain if the FAA will meet this deadline.

Many companies interested in using drones as part of their business have been pushing the FAA to implement the rules as soon as possible. Amazon, for one, has criticized the body for failing to keep up with the rapid pace of drone development, and wants to see the current restrictions relaxed so it can test its Prime Air delivery drone more freely.

Emerging Tech

Alphabet’s Wing drones now have FAA approval to deliver packages in the U.S.

Alphabet Wing has become the first company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA. This means that it can begin commercial deliveries from local businesses to homes in the U.S.
Mobile

These parental control apps will help keep your kids' device habits in check

Looking for extra security and monitoring on mobile devices? Take a look at the best parental control apps for limiting time and keeping watch on your child's phone usage and behavior. We have the top options for Android and iOS here.
Emerging Tech

Hawaiian botanists’ drone discovers a plant thought to be lost forever

In what may well be a world first, botanists in Hawaii recently used a drone to find a species of plant that scientists believed was extinct. The plant was located on a sheer cliff face nearly 20 years after its last sighting.
Deals

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!