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Ohio Researches Drones to Help Manage Traffic Control

DriveOhio starts research for FlyOhio, a program that will collect data to help mitigate traffic.

(TNS) — DriveOhio is taking to the skies.

DriveOhio and the Ohio UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Center in Springfield on Wednesday announced a plan to research how drones can help traffic control.

"Companies operating new UAS technologies need opportunities to test and deploy them, and the nation needs a traffic management system that can make drone package delivery and transportation safe and commercially viable. We aim to do all of this in Ohio," Jim Barna, executive director of DriveOhio, said in a news release.

UAS technology is advancing as quickly as autonomous and connected vehicle technology, he said. DriveOhio — the Ohio Department of Transportation's state agency devoted to autonomous-vehicle research — launched Ohio's first self-driving shuttle in September with May Mobility, which will start accepting passengers next week.

The new plan has three main initiatives: FlyOhio to build an unmanned traffic management system, which would allow the widescale use of drones for delivery and transport; Ohio UAS Center Operations to foster technology for a broad range of business services; and Workforce Development to create the skills for smart mobility jobs around drone technology.

FlyOhio will identify locations that will accommodate aircraft that take off and land vertically, and study SkyVision with the Air Force Research Laboratory, a $5 million ground-based detect-and-avoid radar system at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

Ohio UAS Center Operations will collect statewide data on several things including bridge inspections and construction and traffic monitoring.

"This plan lays out our strategy to continue our leadership role in advancing this country's smart mobility operations to the sky," Fred Judson, managing director of the UAS Center, said in the news release.

©2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.