NASA working with state DOTs to advance use of drones


A group of organisations including The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Minnesota Department of Transportation, have entered into an agreement with NASA to study the potential of drone technology and integrate it into future transportation plans.

NASA will work the group of public- and private-sector partners to study cargo-carrying drones and automated air taxis during a series of at least four future workshops.

NASA has been engaged with the Federal Aviation Administration and other regions about how to integrate advanced air mobility technologies such as drones, also called unmanned aircraft systems, into metropolitan areas.

Drones are becoming more common for use in business, public safety and for recreational purposes, and NCTCOG has undertaken efforts to ensure the technology is integrated safely with the establishment of a task force of public- and private-sector aviation experts. 

Don’t miss our in-depth feature on the evolution of drone use by DOTs in the June 2021 edition of TTI magazine.

E-hang passenger drone prototype

The NASA workshops will bring together subject-matter experts from NASA and transportation planning to help the region develop best practices, from identifying a common set of terms to use in discussions and planning documents, to evaluating potential criteria that might be used in locating future Vertiports for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft – and more.

The effort will begin June 16, when NASA meets with the five public entities selected, which also include Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center (of the Ohio Department of Transportation) and the City of Orlando, Florida,

Elements such as public acceptance, infrastructure, operational integration and local regulations must be considered on the way to widespread implementation of drone technology. The NASA-led exercises will help the region navigate these issues; NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) will bring lessons learned through its work with other regions across the country to help NCTCOG develop best practices and potentially access additional funding.


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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).