What’s the Fuss about the FAA’s Drone Remote ID Rule?

Before 2020 ended, the FAA issued its final rule on remote ID which will require most drones operating in US airspace to have remote ID capability. Remote ID will provide information about drones in flight, such as the identity, location, and altitude of the drone and its control station or take-off location. Authorized individuals from public safety organizations may request identity of the drone’s owner from the FAA.

Drone companies seem to support FAA’s remote ID rule. DJI and Skydio, among others, have issued their respective statements:

“DJI has long supported the FAA’s Remote ID initiative because it will enhance drone accountability, safety and security. The FAA’s deliberative process of reviewing over 50,000 public comments has resulted in a rule that will serve the whole industry, as operators move on to more complex drone operations that save lives and benefit society. We are reviewing the final rule to understand how DJI can take steps towards complying with the FAA’s upcoming requirements.”

From Skydio: “We are reviewing the FAA’s new rule on remote identification, which comes into effect in roughly 30 months. There is no immediate impact on Skydio customers. We are working closely with the FAA and taking steps to ensure that our current and future products will be in compliance with the new framework.”

The remote ID rule likewise sits well with the public, with some saying it will help lessen the incidence of reckless drone flying especially near airports and other vital facilities.

On the other hand, there are those that see a problem in relation to privacy. According to a report by The Verge, Google (technically, Alphabet) isn’t too happy about those new rules, as it turns out. The company’s drone delivery subsidiary Wing wrote a somewhat fearmongering post (via Reuters) titled “Broadcast-Only Remote Identification of Drones May Have Unintended Consequences for American Consumers,” which argues that the FAA’s decision to have drones broadcast their location might let observers track your movements, figuring out where you go, where you live, and where and when you receive packages, among other examples. – Read more.

Another report says, there’s been a vocal cry of disappointment by some in the drone sector, including Alphabet’s Wing team, which sees a major privacy flaw in the FAA’s new framework.  “At a basic level, the new rule would enable the real-time tracking of consumer’s drone delivery orders by the general public,” a public affairs spokesperson for Wing, told me by email. “American communities would not accept real-time surveillance of their deliveries or taxi trips on the road. They should not accept it in the sky.” – Read more.

In a related news, Ariascend, an Oregon unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) drone research and development company, announced that their CEO, Kenji Sugahara, was recently awarded a patent for broadcast remote identification of drones. The recent FAA announcement of the final rule on Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft and the upcoming ASTM standards, cements the patent’s applicability and relevance in the industry. – Read more.

Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash

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