Feds turn to space experts NASA for small-drone traffic plan

August 28, 2016 by Dave Kolpack
In this June 11, 2015, file photo, a hexacopter drone is flown during a drone demonstration at a farm and winery on potential use for board members of the National Corn Growers in Cordova, Md. NASA is entering the next phase of a plan to draw up rules of the road for small drones that fly under 500 feet. The NASA project is meant to develop performance standards for drones that would be used for commercial purposes. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

America's space agency is entering the second phase of a four-step plan to draw up rules of the road for small drones that fly under 500 feet.

The NASA project is meant to develop performance standards for drones that would be used for commercial purposes by companies such as Amazon and Google. It is a virtual system designed to help deal with weather conditions, restricted air space, airport congestion and other obstacles.

NASA is looking to present its research to the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of 2019. By that time, it estimates there will be seven million small drones in operation, including 2.6 million aircraft for commercial use.

The second phase of the project will include testing flights beyond visual line-of-sight of the operator.

Explore further: FAA rules to clear way for routine commercial drone flights

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