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Google Wants to Create Air-Traffic Control for Drones

Worried about thousands of pilotless planes filling the skies like a plague of robotic locusts? Google feels the same way.

The search engine giant is joining more than a dozen companies including Amazon, Verizon and NASA to create an air-traffic control system to coordinate small, low-altitude drones and help prevent mid-air collisions.

“We think the airspace side of this picture is really not a place where any one entity or any one organization can think of taking charge,” Dave Vos, head of Google’s experimental Project Wing, told Bloomberg News. “The idea being that it’s not ‘Google is going to go out and build a solution and everyone else has to subscribe to it.’ The idea really is anyone should be free to build a solution.”

Dubbed the Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management, more than 100 additional companies and universities have also voiced interest in the project, Vos revealed, which will be needed before commercial drones can fly for miles to deliver packages, monitor farmland and survey skyscraper exteriors. Considering the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that 30,000 drones could be flying over the U.S. by 2020, there is much potential for pandemonium.

The proposed system is similar to air-traffic control for traditional aircrafts with one major modification: Computers will provide the data necessary for multiple private operators to make strategic decisions necessary to keep the skies running smoothly.