Use of commercial drones is still not legal in the US, but that is not stopping the drone companies from coming up with new and innovative ideas. The FAA has been kind enough to allow some companies with viable applications, to start their drone tests. Another seems to be pushing forward to be added to the exemption list, the Portland based startup SkyWard. The company has proposed a drone traffic control system. SkyWard is trying to devise a system that would help the drones fly around without colliding with one another or being a threat to anyone around them.
To make things easier for itself, the company has got affiliations with NASA, DJI, 3D Robotics and Parrot. These are the biggest drone manufacturers around the world, except for NASA of course, and should help make dealing with FAA significantly easier. If the company is able to prove that its product can enable drones to fly in crowded airspace, without much danger, the FAA might have to revise its restrictions. Additionally, smarter drones would mean opening the door to more applications.
Currently, the company is working on its software, Urban SkyWays, which would make use of a conventional air traffic control system. The system would operate at altitudes below 1,200 ft. NASA is involved in the project because it is working on a similar one. NASA has been conducting experiments targeted at drone coordination; the researchers are involved with both organizations to improve working efficiency.
The company is planning to make use of Cloud computing, using SkyWard’s cloud and getting each drone connected to it. The object is to get every drone out there on the cloud, this way a specific path for each drone can be planned out. Since each drone would have a separate path, none of the drones would collide with each other. Use a similar computer on commercial flights and you can avoid collisions at higher altitudes as well.