The ADS-B, on the other hand, communicates constantly with air traffic controllers to provide more accurate, real-time information about aircrafts while they are in flight. It also uses Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to more accurately display position, velocity, and altitude information about an aircraft.
Using the system aboard an unmanned aircraft gives air traffic controllers, pilots of other airborne vehicles, and pilots on the ground a much better idea of where the aircraft is in the airspace than the current air traffic control system, which only allows air traffic controllers to see aircrafts in a specific region of airspace.
For the test, the Kihana MQ flew for nearly three hours in restricted airspace over Dryden's Western Aeronautical Test Range, which is part of Edwards Air Force Base and the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center.
The FAAs William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., recorded ADS-B data during the test flight and will help analyze the performance of the system, according to NASA. Researchers also tested new ADS-B laptop software on the ground that will be used to display surrounding air traffic information to UAS controllers on the ground.