As the skies become busier and drones have begun to increasingly share the same airspace as manned aviation, extra safety precautions have become paramount in order to ensure the seamless integration of UAVs into everyday life. One such precaution is remote identification or Remote ID.
Remote ID provides a standardized method for authorities to identify not only individual drones but also their pilots, as well as the pilot’s location, providing crucial accountability and reducing the risk of threats to safety such as collisions with people, property and other aircraft.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently announced its final ruling for Remote ID requirements. While this article will largely focus on the details of the FAA’s implementation, it is worth noting that the UK and Europe are following suit (with some minor changes), and similar legislation is sure to be put in place anywhere around the world where commercial and recreational drone activity is on the rise.
Remote ID requirements and approaches
According to the FAA, there are three ways in which drone pilots will be able to comply with Remote ID requirements:
- Fly a drone that has been manufactured with a built-in Remote ID broadcast capability.
- Retrofit an existing drone with an add-on Remote ID broadcast module.
- Fly a drone at a special FAA-recognized identification area (FRIA), in which case Remote ID broadcast capability is not required.
Information that must be continually broadcast by the drone includes its ID number, location, altitude, and velocity, as well as the location and altitude of either the ground control station or takeoff point. This information can be picked up by receivers within a limited local range.
While the FAA has selected broadcast technology (mainly Bluetooth) for its initial implementation of Remote ID, a networking approach (using cellular or WiFi) could also be used to achieve the aims of the initiative. Network Remote ID uses a third-party service to store and disseminate the required information, allowing drones to be tracked and monitored over greater distances, though this requires the drone to be permanently connected to the internet via Wi-Fi or cellular connection, which may be a problem in remote areas. Security and interoperability concerns were also cited as reasons for selecting broadcast remote ID instead.
Remote ID and BVLOS
One of the major driving forces behind the uptake of Remote ID technology was the concern from security agencies about the risks posed by unidentified drones. Now that the implementation of Remote ID has begun, this opens up the door for further support and acceptance, both from authorities and the general public, for more complex commercial operations involving BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) and flights over people.
It is worth noting that for widespread adoption of BVLOS operations, Network Remote ID implementation may be necessary, as this will allow more complex communication and co-ordination between large numbers of drones and UTM (unmanned traffic management)/U-Space services. Switzerland has already implemented the world’s first functional drone Remote ID network, and the FAA has left the door open for future legislative changes that could accommodate network Remote ID.
Drone manufacturers looking to develop BVLOS-capable platforms should also take heed of Remote ID requirements in their target markets – for instance, the FAA has ruled that drones that are retrofitted with the aforementioned broadcast modules can be used for VLOS (visual line of sight operations) only. Manufacturers may therefore want to consider integrating Remote ID technology into their drone designs, particularly if they are looking to get type-certified. A solution that can handle both broadcast and network Remote ID requirements will be ideal if you wish to future-proof your platform design and cater to as many target markets as possible.
A future-proof communications solution for Remote ID and BVLOS
As we have discussed, the future of commercial drone operations lies with BVLOS, and this in turn is increasingly likely to require communication with a third-party service provider that can safely co-ordinate complex missions in crowded airspace, no matter where you are in the world. To provide seamless connectivity and assure legislators that you can operate with the utmost safety, a robust communications solution will be required.
Elsight’s Halo connectivity platform provides the assurance BVLOS operators need to fly in the future commercial drone industry landscape. Featuring advanced bonding technology, it can aggregate up to four cellular channels into one single link, and can also take advantage of RF and satellite communications.
Halo ensures critical redundancy and failover, and provides the ability to automatically and dynamically balance traffic among the links most suited to the aircraft’s needs even as communication environments change. In addition, Halo contains a native software Remote ID module that does not require the addition of any additional hardware modules or any other parts. This multi-purposefulness of Halo ensures that BVLOS drones can continually provide the crucial information required to comply with any Remote ID requirements. Halo is also highly compact and lightweight, adding this essential capability to your drone platform with minimal impact upon system resources.
Elsight has already begun to power the BVLOS drone industry revolution, and we can help you become a part of it. Get in touch with us to find out more!