Image Credit: Wix
Several weeks ago, we reported on the recent change in drone regulation put forth by the FAA regarding drone registration and identification. On February 25th, a new regulation went into effect requiring that FAA-registered drones display their registration numbers clearly on the outer surface of the drone. They enacted this rule to aid law enforcement and for safety reasons. Having a drone’s registration numbers displayed clearly on the outside allows law enforcement to identify a drone without coming into direct contact with it.
Ideally, this new rule will improve the safety of officers and make identifying drones more efficient. However, it’s really only a step towards something greater: Remote Identification. Clearly displaying your registration number on the outside prevents law enforcement from having to handle an unidentified drone that could be potentially dangerous, but the officer on site would still need to be close enough to the drone to identify it with the naked eye, or they would need equipment to identify the number form a safe distance. These would not be obstacles with a method to identify a drone’s origin or owner remotely.
Image Credit: Wing and AirMap
In June of 2017, the FAA chartered a committee called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (or simply the ARC). Later that year, the committee submitted recommendations to the FAA on “technologies available to identify and track drones in flight and other associated issues.” The committee discussed emerging technologies and the issue if remote tracking, safety and law enforcement in a detailed report that is available on the FAA’s website. Essentially, the consensus was that the FAA should consider a direct broadcast method and a network publishing method for remote ID and tracking as “both methods would send the data to an FAA-approved internet-based database.”
Now, the big question is: Who will be developing this technology and how will it be enacted? The ARC has stated that the FAA should “promote fast-tracked development of industry standards while a final remote ID and tracking rule is developed, potentially offering incentives for early adoption and relying on educational initiatives to pave the way to the implementation of the rule.” On December 20th, 2018, the FAA issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a remote ID system. This RFI closed earlier this year on February 4th.
Video Credit: Wing
Also in December, three UAS companies gifted us with a possible solution to the remote identification problem. AirMap, Alphabet’s Wing, and Kittyhawk.io worked collaboratively to put forth a remote ID application that’s network-based and works on the InterUSS Platform. InterUSS is an open source network used to connect drone service suppliers and share safety information. Together, these companies successfully demonstrated how the application works by using the app to identify drones near them.
In the demonstration, the app was able to show the user drones within a 1-mile radius and flying on different platforms in a controlled airspace. The app showed the drone’s model, the purpose of the flight, its speed, and its altitude. Since the app shares only necessary safety information, the privacy of the pilots is still protected. Hopefully, along with this demonstration, we’ll soon see more steps being taken towards a practical application of remote identification.
I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron