DJI Argues AeroScope is the Answer to Drone Tracking Regulation

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) seems ready to deploy its plan for Remote ID, a system that allows in-flight identification of drones. DJI says it already has the perfect technology for this: AeroScope.

Remote ID has been in limbo since it was first released as part of the FAA’s final drone rules in 2020 since it was legally challenged as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Last week, the United States Court of Appeals in DC upheld rules established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for remote identification, paving the way for the federal agency to roll it out nationwide. .

How different countries choose to adopt their forms of remote identification varies. For example, the FAA uses the “digital license plate” analogy, which means that a drone will need to be equipped with a device that emits a radio signal and allows people on the ground to scan it and see relevant information about its owner and the status of their flight check-in information.

Perhaps in response to a deluge of bad press in Ukraine, DJI released a blog post that positions its proprietary AeroScope system as the perfect solution to the remote ID problem. While DJI doesn’t specifically name the United States as a great use case for its technology, the timing is so close to the recent court ruling that it’s considered coincidental.

The blog post reads like a well-crafted pitch for the DJI solution. Rather than requiring an additional radio transmitter, DJI says AeroScope can provide law enforcement with the tools to track popular drones the second they’re airborne.

DJI Mini 3 Pro in flight.

DJI says it first offered, developed and deployed AeroScope in 2017 when regulators and law enforcement began looking for a technical solution to identify drones in flight in certain areas. In March of that year, DJI released a white paper outlining how a system using existing technology could allow drones to fly safely, even over congested and busy airways, and give authorities a way to monitor the drone traffic while protecting the privacy of drone operators. , says DJI.

“At its core, any remote ID system tries to answer a basic question people ask about drones: what does this drone do? The overwhelming majority of drone pilots fly safely and responsibly, often enjoying an aerial perspective on the world or performing important work such as inspecting bridges and surveying construction sites,” said said a DJI representative. PetaPixel.

“But when a drone flies into a sensitive location, or when people are concerned enough about a drone to call the police, authorities want to know basic information about it – its flight path, the location of its pilot and identifying information such as a serial number. number or registration number.

DJI says AeroScope answers these questions and says it can be a technical solution for remote identification that can work in just about any situation.

DJI drone

“Each DJI drone continuously transmits a radio signal coded with basic information, including the drone’s location, altitude, speed, and direction. [as well as] the place from where the drone was launched and the location of the pilot of the drone and the serial number of the drone,” the DJI representative continues.

“This signal can be picked up by an AeroScope receiver, when it receives an AeroScope signal, it displays the drone’s flight path and other information in a simple interface on a computer screen. Each DJI drone automatically transmits the information AeroScope; there is no way for a drone user to turn off the signal as this would defeat AeroScope’s goal of promoting responsible and responsible drone use.

While it is possible that AeroScope could meet remote identification needs in the United States, it is still a proprietary system that has been the subject of an outcry from Ukrainians in their fight against the Russian invaders. In March, several reports out of Ukraine – including a public statement from Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation – claimed that DJI AeroScope was being used by the Russians to track an operator’s position. drone and target that location with artillery and rocket fire.

DJI vehemently denied these rumors on several occasions and eventually halted drone sales to Ukraine and Russia in an effort to prevent its technology from being used in combat.

Whether the allegations against DJI are true or not, the fact remains that AeroScope now comes with a lot of PR baggage. Even if what DJI describes in its blog post titled “How DJI’s AeroScope System Protects the Public Interest” is true, the FAA should be prepared to answer questions about AeroScope’s supposed impact in Ukraine.

DJI is also not in the best position with the US government. The company was added to the economic blacklist in 2020 and has been the target of additional calls for outright bans as recently as last October.

Still, the United States isn’t the only country exploring drone tracking regulation, and DJI might just make the case now before other countries take similar action in hopes that some of them might consider AeroScope as an immediately deployable package with low installation costs.


Picture credits: Ryan Mense for PetaPixel

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