The skies are about to get a lot more crowded.
By 2022, the FAA predicts there will be around three million drones doing everything from package deliveries to disaster response or just flying for fun.
But before they can share the skies, the FAA must develop a system for unmanned aircraft traffic management or UTM for short.
In other words, air traffic control for drones.
So, the system is going to have to accomodate 20 drones flying and be able to take in the data on what the operator, where they want to fly, when they want to fly, Conflict those, and then things are flying to track what's going on.
It's a daunting challenge that NASA, the FAA, and industry partners have been working on since 2015 because the system has so many moving parts.
It has to safely integrate thousands of piloted and autonomous drones from different companies flying at different altitudes and in different directions.
And most of these drones won't be directly visible to the pilot.
And because of just the scale of it, it's gonna be highly automated.
There'll be individual pilots that want to fly a mission.
There'll be companies like Amazon, who will wanna fly thousands of missions.
And not have a pilot having one of those drones right.>> NASA is entering the final phase of testing with partners at seven different sites around the country including the state of NAVADA.
We partner with alot of international and multinational co-operations like amazon [UNKNOWN] So we focus specifically on testing aspect o communicationand navigation
And what that means is, how are drones going to operate in rural and in urban environments?
NASA is expecting to turn over technology and results to the FAA in 2019 that will set regulations.
Because even when the sky's the limit, someone has to set that limit.
In San Francisco, Lexis Avedes, CNET.COM, for CBS News.