Google, Amazon, NASA working on air traffic control for drones

Beach drone
Watch where you're going.

Everyone loves drones: news crews, amateur enthusiasts, Amazon. But these tiny Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are causing plenty of headaches as pilots drift too close to airports and get in the way of the emergency services.

Something has to change. Google, with a little help from its friends, wants to build an intelligent air traffic control system for drones to prevent mid-air collisions, the company has revealed to Bloomberg.

More than a dozen companies are on board according to the report, including NASA, Amazon and Verizon. The idea is that drones could automatically avoid each other (and other aircraft) thanks to a built-in sensing and reporting system.

Drone ranger

It's still early days for such a system but some details are expected to be thrashed out at a NASA-run conference happening next week. Google's Dave Vos said he expects multiple networks to run alongside each other, with governments acting as supervisors.

Human beings (including Amazon delivery drivers) will still be in charge of their machines, but if you try and fly into another drone or the White House then the safety system will kick into action.

Everyone involved in the initiative knows the potential benefits of widespread drone use are huge, from delivering supplies to remote areas to getting better views of the action at the next Olympics.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.