Flying drones and cars might be one way to alleviate the ever-growing traffic gridlock that much of the world faces.

to provide autonomous vehicles with more information by which to make decisions by. People drive erratically at times, and this creates unneeded traffi c issues. A University of Illinois research team simulated a phantom traffi c jam with 20 vehicles driving in a big circle. Having just one of the vehicles tap on its brakes forces all of the other cars to do so as well, creating a needless slowdown. The report was published in the MIT Technology Review and stated that, “... the presence of just one autonomous car reduces the standard deviation in speed of all the cars in the jam by around 50 percent, and the number of sharp hits to the brakes is cut from around nine per vehicle for every kilometer traveled to at most 2.5 — and sometimes practically zero.” So the traffi c fl ow, fuel consumption, brake wear and safety all benefi t from having autonomous vehicles. Aviation needs to take note since some of this is directly applicable.


Another major issue to be solved for PAVs and drones is the need for a new air traffi c control system. (Wait, aren’t we doing that now with NextGen?) If you have met some members of society you will have real trepidation of any of them being able to pilot a fl ying hunk of metal over your head, and will demand that the FAA create some of modernized air traffi c management system which will work with service providers to

remove non-pilots from the equation. The FAA, NASA and a number of industry partners have studied the requirements needed to establish a drone traffi c management system, and will perform testing this summer. This system will not have human controllers, and will utilize an electronic system which communicates fl ight constraint notifi cations and input fl ight information directly to drone operators. The current plan is to complete this phase by 2019, which the FAA will use information gathered for implementation by 2025. But the main task will fall upon companies that are already designing drone communication and navigation solutions, products or services. We are in the early stages, and hopefully the U.S. will not fall behind other countries in this area. There are also numerous regulatory,

legal, insurance and other constraints will need to be resolved, as well as a major public relations campaign to educate the public and gain support. Let’s not forget those pesky issues such battery life, advertising opportunities (do we allow banners to be strewn behind a PAV?), and how snacks will need to be served onboard (hotel mini bar?). Needless to say, the MROs that jump on this to provide on- demand maintenance will reap the rewards as this market emerges. They might need to team with tow truck companies (AAA for PAVs) and others to provide a complete aftermarket service proposition!

CONCLUSION Technology has once again outpaced the abilities of society and government to absorb changes. This happens each time a shift in the status quo happens, and the move to PAVs will be comparable to when the automobile entered the market. Not only were more roads needed, they had to be widened, paved, funded and maintained. New laws and insurance plans needed to be created. Drones will crash and problems will occur, but we still have all of that with automobiles and aircraft. The true change will be once autonomous systems make all of transportation safer, better and faster. PAVs might enter the market

slowly, with fi ts and starts in the coming years, but once society catches up on how to absorb them, another revolution in transportation will change civilization in unforeseen ways. Personally, I cannot wait.

John Pawlicki is CEO and principal of OPM Research. He also works with Information Tool Designers (ITD),

where he consults to the DOT’s Volpe Center, handling various technology and cyber security projects for the FAA and DHS. He managed and deployed various products over the years, including the launch of CertiPath (with world’s fi rst commercial PKI bridge). John has also been onic FAA 8130-3 forms, as well as in defi ning digital identities with PKI. His recent publication, ‘Aerospace Marketplaces Report,’ which analyzed third-party sites that support the trading of aircraft parts, is available on as a PDF download, or a printed book version is available on

24 | july 2017

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