Drone manufacturer DJI has demonstrated a ‘drone-to-phone’ solution which allows anyone with a smartphone to remotely identify the airborne devices.
Using an app, anyone within radio range of a drone can pick up the device’s signal and learn its location, altitude, speed and the direction in which it is travelling. Interestingly, the app also provides the user with an identification number for the drone and the location of the pilot.
The solution acts in a similar fashion to mobile device tracking, known as the WiFi Aware protocol. This allows the phones to receive and use WiFi signals directly from the drones without having to complete a two-way connection.
DJI insisted the new app offers an “easy way for anyone with a smartphone to monitor nearby drones for enhanced safety, security and peace of mind”.
“Remote ID functions as an electronic license plate for drones, allowing anyone who is curious about a drone in the sky to learn more about what it’s doing,” explained Brendan Schulman, DJI vice president of policy and legal affairs.
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The announcement follows a move by the Civil Aviation Authority last week which will require drone operators across the UK to register themselves and take an online course to fly the devices.
Around the world, aviation regulators are moving toward requiring remote ID systems for drones amid growing concerns over safety and security. Last year, Gatwick Airport was brought to a standstill following repeated drone sightings around the site.
Thousands of passengers were disrupted by the incident during the busy run-up to Christmas.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced it will release a mandatory remote ID proposal by the end of 2020, while the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will also introduce remote ID requirements in July next year.
DJI’s introduction of the drone-to-phone ID app could help the company meet regulatory requirements in a host of countries when legislative changes are confirmed.
“As more drones take to the skies every day, remote ID addresses the public’s interest in understanding what’s happening in the airspace,” said Christian Struwe, DJI policy director for Europe.
“DJI’s drone-to-phone implementation helps accomplish that by allowing drone pilots to broadcast a simple description of their flights, so anyone viewing the smartphone app can understand that they are inspecting a roof, surveying a construction site, or performing another beneficial task with a drone,” he added.
Brendan Schulman commented: “DJI’s direct drone-to-phone remote ID shows we’re committed to providing a solution in a way that is instantly usable worldwide without any additional infrastructure.”