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A new record has recently been set in long-distance drone delivery. The consortium Team Roadrunner from Nevada set the record flying a fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) over 150 kilometers to Austin, Texas using cellular connectivity.

The UAV, launched from a central Texas urban location, flew a planned route through the National Airspace System (NAS) using a combination of a mobile command and control (C2), a visual observer team, and stationary visual observers (VO) located across the flight route that were equipped with enhanced radios and cell phone communications which allowed the UAV to be flown using a cellular communications link until it successfully landed and delivered its package in Austin, Texas.

“This was the most challenging, logistically-intensive, and longest package delivery demonstration recorded to date using cellular technology in the NAS, and allowed us the opportunity to demonstrate innovative capability – a demonstration necessity for the UAS industry,” Dr. Chris Walach, Director of the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site and Adjunct Assistant Professor, College of Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University told nias-UAS.com. “Assembling a resilient team, being at the right place at the right time, with the right innovative technology, and entrepreneurial perspective is what allowed us to accomplish this mission.”

Walach continued, “Drone package delivery in an urban and remote environment is the wave of the future, and Nevada is leading and helping to grow this major commercial endeavor. These package delivery milestones prove that new UAS technology enables the safe integration of UAS into the NAS for long-distance and urban package deliveries.”

Nevada previously conducted historic package delivery Beyond Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) demonstrations at over 62 kilometers as well as the first publicly-recorded package delivery to a Nevada homeowner.

“Team Roadrunner was organized and very professional to work with. It is very exciting to be part of something truly groundbreaking. Integration of students and alumni on similar projects extends our outreach to the industry,” said Dr. Scott Burgess, Associate Professor, College of Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“Aviation has evolved much since the days of the Wright Brothers and I truly believe that unmanned systems are going to revolutionize the aviation industry and beyond; I am proud that Embry-Riddle faculty, students, and fellow Alumni are actively playing a part in this incredible journey,” said Kandi Windham, Campus Director, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Houston, Texas.

“This was an extremely complicated mission. Making sure that the UAS met all the performance characteristics was only one piece. Great emphasis was placed on flight safety, airworthiness, communication, command and control as well as air and ground coordination, and VO logistics. The AUV Flight Services worked extremely well together. Given the complexity and the ultimate success of the mission, it is clear to me that we couldn’t have picked a better team,” said Hannan Parvizian, the founder of one of the companies, Volans-i UAS.