NASA and Verizon are working together to monitor drones. NASA was already working with the FAA to create a way to monitor drone activity in the United States, now the two have enlisted the help of Verizon to create a way to monitor the drones using Verizon’s cellphone towers. The project is currently underway at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The first tests of the project are expected to take place this summer, with the surveillance solution officially rolling out in 2017.
The monitoring of drones using cell towers makes a decent amount of sense. Sam Tabar points out how commercial drones in particular will need to be outfitted with equipment to monitor the weather around them and other air traffic, making something like a cell tower ideal for tracking them. Verizon is currently the largest mobile carrier in the United States, so it has the most towers available for use. The availability of towers makes it an ideal partner for the FAA and NASA who likely want to get as much coverage as possible when it comes to monitoring the drones.