US tech giant Google has joined forces with some of the world's largest communications, technology and aviation companies in potentially creating an air-traffic control system specifically for drones.
The search engine has signed agreements with Nasa, along with at least 14 other companies including Amazon, Verizon Communications and Harris, to help make a system to manage small, low-altitude drones to prevent mid-air collisions and disrupt companies’ operations.
In the future, commercial drones are expected to fill the skies in cities and other urban areas and UAV crashes are far more likely, but according to Bloomberg Business, the government has yet to verify who will manage the system or how it will be controlled, and it is asking for ideas.
“We think the airspace side of this picture is really not a place where any one entity or any one organisation can think of taking charge,” Dave Vos, who heads Google’s Project Wing told Bloomberg News. “The idea being that it’s not ‘Google is going to go out and build a solution and everyone else has to subscribe to it'. The idea really is anyone should be free to build a solution.”
Nasa is calling this potential system the Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management, in which computers will order drones to fly around each other, as well as obstacles like buildings and birds.
As well as the verified companies, more than 100 other establishments and universities have shown interest in the project and many will attend a conference on the idea next week, which will be sponsored by Nasa.
According to Bloomberg Business, much interest will indeed be needed before commercial drones can fly long distances to deliver goods, inspect power lines and survey crops.
It has yet to be decided whether the system will be a private or a public one.