Leading drone experts discuss industry’s future at GUTMA conference

GUTMA Conference in Madrid

What does the future of drone traffic management look like? In early June, hundreds of the world’s foremost drone companies, aviation experts and unmanned traffic management (UTM) system providers gathered in Madrid, Spain for the Global UTM Association (GUTMA) annual conference.  

GUTMA is a non-profit consortium of worldwide unmanned aircraft systems traffic management stakeholders and works to support the safe and secure integration of drones in national airspace systems.

Over the course of two days, air navigation and UTM service providers, drone manufacturers, infrastructure operators, as well as leading regulators and researchers, debuted new technologies and discussed where the international drone industry is heading next.

Day one tackled some of the challenges facing regulators and UTM industry stakeholders. Conversations centred around how multiple UTM services providers could use one airspace, and how the development of a unified traffic management for both unmanned and manned vehicles could be next generation of air control.

Fling CEO Michael Currie spoke alongside other authorities on a panel about ensuring fair and efficient access to high-value airspace over cities. As airspaces become more and more crowded, clearer rules and regulations will be needed to manage the flow of drone traffic overhead. How drone companies, municipal departments or regulatory bodies come to agreement on that process and solution is still open for debate.

Day two of the conference started with a complex live UTM demonstration of three drone flights that were managed by an integrated ATM/UTM system and tracked by an independent surveillance network. The remainder of the event was dedicated to conversations about integrating drones into urban environments with a particular focus on how to help government better understand how UTM services provides and city infrastructure can work together around the planning and execution of drone operations.

Other highlights from the event included an alliance formed between five unmanned aerial system services suppliers under the banner of Google’s Project Wing. The group launched an open-source communications platform called InterUSS Platform as a first step in reducing the risk of conflicting drone flights regardless of the country authority responsible for UTM operations.