NASA Selects Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to Test Drones in Urban Traffic Management

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As more drones take to the skies, whether for business, leisure, emergency response or package delivery, we need to make sure safety and efficiency are two key priorities.  

To ensure that safety, NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) project selected the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to test drone traffic management. The Island University is one of only two test sites selected nationwide.

“The Lone Star Team is proud to have been selected by NASA to work on such critical testing efforts,” said Mike Sanders, Acting Executive Director of the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation. “This series of tests is a critical step in enabling the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems within an urban environment. We look forward to working with NASA’s Ames Research Center, the City of Corpus Christi and its first responders, the Corpus Christi International Airport, the Port of Corpus Christi, as well as the many partners across Texas and the United States.”

The Lone Star team plans to start testing this summer and will focus on drone communication, collision avoidance, safe landing, services that support UAS operations, and safety in an urban landscape.

This year marks the fourth and final chapter in a series of testing drone technology, with each year increasing in complexity, according to NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

“Our (program) represents the most complicated demonstration of advanced UAS operating in a demanding urban environment that will have been tested to date,” said Ronald Johnson, NASA UTM project manager. “For the commercial drone industry to really advance, they need to see the results of this testing to understand the opportunities and challenges posed by flying in an environment where communications, GPS navigation, micro weather, tall buildings, and community acceptance all present hurdles to everyday, safe operation.”

NASA’s UTM project works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct field demonstrations of small unmanned aircraft systems to fully and safely access low-altitude airspace in support of civil and business opportunities.

The UTM project is under the Airspace Operations and Safety Program within the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, with researchers at NASA’s Ames, Glenn, and Langley research centers.

For more information about Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation at A&M University-Corpus Christi, please visit or contact Communications Specialist III Michelle Villarreal Leschper at 361.825.4039.

For more information about NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management, visit