Researchers test new systems to track drones

Drone experiment
The University of Washington’s Cory Cantey and Karine Chen prepare a drone nicknamed Papaya for flight at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport. (UW Autonomous Flight Systems Laboratory Photo)

As more and more drones fill the skies, increasingly sophisticated methods will be required to track them under increasingly challenging conditions. How will they navigate if they lose touch with the Global Positioning System? How will authorities know who to call if a drone goes wrong?

Two experiments illustrate how those questions are being addressed. One is being conducted by University of Washington researchers at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport. The other is being done in cooperation with the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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