By: Jeremiah Karpowicz, Editorial Director at Commercial UAV News
Defining and enabling a UAS traffic management (UTM) system for drones is something we’ve talked about for years now, with many people believing that such an ecosystem will be the only way companies can operate a drone beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) at scale to truly enable commercial opportunities with the technology. This sort of UTM ecosystem will also completely change the paradigm around urban air mobility logistics.
Andy Thurling, Chief Technology Officer at NUAIR, has been intimately involved in the effort to enable this kind of ecosystem. He leads technical research on current and future UAS technologies and evaluates potential paths to implementation, and these endeavors were on full display at recent industry events. His session at the Commercial UAV Expo explored how different stakeholders have defined and are approaching the developments of a UTM system, while his XPONENTIAL panel detailed what it will mean to field UTM capability to support civil operations.
Those sessions are available to watch on-demand and they contain a plethora of technical details around how these UTM ecosystems are taking shape from a multitude of perspectives. However, I wanted to get a better baseline around the short and long-term impact we might see from such endeavors. To do so, I connected with Andy to ask him about the economic impact of drone technology that NUAIR has quantified, what makes L-BVLOS operations so important, whether there are distinct visions around how a UTM system is going to work and much more.
Jeremiah Karpowicz: NUAIR is focused on helping to generate an economic impact in the New York region that will come from civil drone operations being enabled. What are some of the ways you’re focused on measuring or seeing that impact?
Andy Thurling: We’ve been able to bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars into the area, but I think what’s really important to note is that it’s not just about the measurables. The technological ecosystem that we’ve helped create in Central New York to enable job growth and continue to draw in new companies to put down roots and grow here represents so much more. I hate to use an over-used term, but it really is an ecosystem.