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Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management (UTM) Awarded 2020 NASA Government Invention of the Year

Simplified UTM Logo Final
Simplified logo for NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) project.
Credits: NASA

A NASA patent for traffic management of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) vehicles was awarded the 2020 Government Invention of the Year.  This technology, called “Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) to Enable Civilian Low Altitude Goods and Service Delivery by UAS,” allows UAS to maintain safe and efficient operations for goods and services delivery. The invention transforms traditional, human-centric air traffic management into a modern, machine-centric, federated approach. In traditional air traffic management, a centralized authority provides services to keep the airspace safe and accessible. In UTM, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) delegates some of that authority to other entities to provide similar services to directly support the operators. In addition, those operators may receive services from different service suppliers. These additional services may include low-altitude weather information, congestion management, terrain avoidance, route planning, re-rerouting, separation management, and contingency management. This novel ecosystem requires a federation of services that are interconnected and communicating via well-defined interfaces and protocols. More information on NASA UTM is at