DJI Introduces Voluntary Flight Identification Options For Drone Pilots

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DJI has just updated its AeroScope drone tracking and identification system to include an optional self-identification feature for drone operators who choose to broadcast the info. With this update, operators can now “voluntarily identify their flight operations to authorities,” DJI explained in a press release. That info will join the serial number and telemetry data DJI drones broadcast to AeroScope receivers used by authorities.

The new Aeroscope feature can be accessed in the latest DJI Go 4 app, and its aim is to help pilots and authorities maintain safe flights.

AeroScope addresses the needs of authorities who know that most drone flights are harmless, but who are concerned and must be vigilant about tracking risky or illegal drone activity near airport runways, prisons and other sensitive locations. AeroScope also provides authorities with a tool to respond to complaints about individual drone usage and to investigate further.

DJI developed AeroScope to balance the legitimate needs of authorities against the privacy rights of drone pilots. AeroScope uses the existing communications link between a drone and its remote controller to broadcast identification information up to 5 km such as a registration or serial number, as well as basic telemetry, including location, altitude, speed and direction. Police, security agencies, aviation authorities and other authorized parties can use an AeroScope receiver to monitor, analyze and act on that information.

Because AeroScope relies on drones directly broadcasting their information to local receivers, not on transmitting data to an internet-based service, it ensures most drone flights will not be automatically recorded in government databases, protecting the privacy interests of people and businesses that use drones. This approach also avoids substantial costs and complexities that would be involved in creating such databases and connecting drones to network systems.

DJI is working to expand the broadcast protocol for other drone manufacturers.

Governments around the world have expressed interest in requiring mandatory tracking and identification of drones. DJI has led the drone industry in arguing against proposals to require all drone flights to be tracked and recorded in government databases, many of which would require drones to be modified with special equipment that would add weight to drones, drain battery life and impose costs on drone pilots.