The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been vocal on the dangers of drone flight, evidenced by its painstaking approach to drafting new laws, public awareness campaigns and even a smartphone app. But its warnings can only go so far amid a flood of enthusiastic new drone owners itching to get their machines into the sky, so it is turning to technology to help ensure public safety. The agency has teamed up with private firm CACI to test out technology that detects drones and their pilots buzzing around airports, in hope of preventing potential collisions with manned aircraft.
Citing an increase in reports of small unmanned aircraft being flown dangerously close to airport runways, FAA Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker revealed the new partnership in testimony before the House Aviation Subcommittee on Wednesday. CACI's prototype drone sensor detection system relies on radio signals used in drone operation, according to Phys.org, and would enable the government to track down any pilots flying within a 5-mile (8 km) radius of an airport.
The FAA is looking to determine the feasibility of the technology, and whether or not it will compromise regular airport operations and safety. It will begin by testing it out at selected airports, though which ones exactly is not yet clear.
The partnering with CACI forms part of the FAA's UAS Pathfinder Program, which was announced back in May. Through this venture, the agency is aiming to work more closely with the drone industry to develop better informed regulations for the integration of drones into US airspace.