New York drone test site to develop ‘air taxi’ vertiport technology


The vision of a city where traffic congestion is lessened at street level by ‘drone like’ air taxis is moving closer as technology and processes to manage the automated take-off and landing of drones and air taxis is now to be trialed at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York as part of a NASA program.

The US$900,000 research program at the UAS (unmanned aerial systems) test site at Griffiss Airport, Oneida County, will develop automation technology to support high-density vertiport operations for vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL).

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) at Griffiss Airport already conducts drone testing such as safety parachute tests. It is one of seven sites licensed by the FAA to conduct drone testing.

The research program at NUAIR is part of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Integrated Aviation Systems Program Advanced Air Mobility Project.

The goal of the research is to develop technology that will support safe, secure, resilient and efficient heavy-lift UAS cargo delivery and passenger carrying.

Volocopter is one of the firms developing electric VTOL air taxis

The NUAIR program aims to improve understanding of the barriers to the operation of vertiports, the infrastructure requirements needed to increase their scale and mature the automation technologies to support the growth of their traffic. The project also aims to help mature testing range requirements for the Advanced Air Mobility national campaign series, which expects to host future events highlighting high-volume vertiport operations for passenger-carrying VTOL operations.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, “Oneida County’s long-standing partnership with NASA has proven to be a productive one.

“Together, we have conducted crucial research that has led to transformative advancements in the UAS industry. I look forward to the impact this new collaboration will have on the future of this emerging technology.”

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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).