CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -
Rockwell Collins is working with NASA to develop radios for planes so that pilots can control them from the ground.
"We're building a system to enable pilots to communicate with their aircraft," said John Moore with Rockwell Collins.
The radios are specific to traditional, bigger aircraft, like planes. These systems could one day be used by all kinds of companies.
"The work that NASA's accomplishing with the communications systems for unmanned aircraft helps to pave the way for civil operations of unmanned aircraft in the future, to allow commercial operations of those aircraft," said Jim Griner with NASA.
A test showed the radio works -- it will switch between towers while the plane is in the air, just like your cell phone will do when you're driving. (Just, hopefully, without the dropped calls.)
For these tests, there were pilots on board but the goal is to get the systems working to a point where the pilot can control the plane from the ground.
"The real goal of this system is to allow unmanned aviation to be routine so that it's just as easy to do as with a manned aircraft," said Moore.