Commercial Drone Alliance and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory Announce Research Partnership

The Commercial Drone Alliance (CDA) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT LL) announced a collaboration to open doors for safe and scalable commercial drone operations.

The joint research will focus on further developing a nationwide database of aircraft traffic density, a free, open-source tool created by MIT LL. Insight gathered through the collaborative research will enable risk-based analysis of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and enable integration into the U.S. National Airspace. This new joint research builds upon research investments previously made by NASA and the FAA.

“The potential benefits of commercial drone operations beyond the visual sight of the operator are significant – from responding to disasters, inspecting our nation’s infrastructure, delivering medical supplies, and so much more. But the regulatory approval processes have been hampered by a perceived lack of data that accurately characterizes the national airspace,” said Lisa Ellman, CDA’s Executive Director. “The Commercial Drone Alliance is pleased to collaborate with MIT Lincoln Laboratory to provide this data to federal regulators and the wider industry so that scaled BVLOS operations can become a reality in the United States.”

MIT LL has helped shape the nation’s security, defense, and technology over six decades of research and development. The CDA regularly engages with the federal government and represents leading U.S.-based commercial drone companies, making it well-positioned to support and inform collaborative research with MIT LL. These two leading organizations will address high-priority capability gaps and barriers to enable the integration of BVLOS UAS operations.

“MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s mission is to turn concepts into reality through innovative research and development enabled by state-of-the-art facilities, such as New England’s fastest, most powerful supercomputing center. We’ve been spearheading the transition of these capabilities to the community as open-source software projects that are expected to accelerate safe UAS operations,” said Andrew Weinert, Technical Staff, Surveillance Systems Group, MIT Lincoln Laboratory. “We look forward to working closely with the Commercial Drone Alliance to provide much-needed data to the entire commercial drone industry, enabling operations in the United States while providing global leadership to support worldwide operations.”