The future used to be self-driving cars, but after testing was done at the Hawthorne Airport, the future may be in self-flying airplanes.
Microsoft tested the technology of self-flying airplanes at the airport with the help of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s Office of Economic Development and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.
The Federal Aviation Administraion designed Nevada as one of seven unmanned aerial systems. Hawthorne is one of those sites.
Chris Walach, director of the Nevada testing sites stated, “This is one of the most exciting developments I have seen over the past several years in Nevada and globally.”
In a statement, Shish Kapoor, a principal Microsoft researcher said, Microsoft created a system that can keep gliders in the air without using a motor.
During the test, two gliders, one with a 6-foot wingspan and another with a 16-foot wingspan, used this system to fine and “catch rides” on the rising hot air, similar to how birds fly.
The gliders were equipped with a sensor built into the aircraft. Those sensors used algorithms to predict air patterns which then planned a route for the glider to use, seeking out rising hot air or thermals.
“Once it’s flying, it senses flight changes in altitude or direction and then makes its own decision if it has to go left, right, up or down, based on where the thermals are going to take it,” Walach continued. “It’s really an innovative type of technology and this is the first time we actually tested this type of capability.”
This technology that was tested at the Hawthorne Airport can be intstalled in ground, marine and aerial systems.
The Hawthorne Airport was also the site of the longest Unmanned Aerial Package Delivery at the beginning of the year.