State of Play: Latest Developments in Drone Remote ID Around the World

By Susan Becker, Marketing Director | April 14th, 2024

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Drone Remote ID – An Introduction

Remote ID has already emerged as the agreed-upon technology for enabling greater levels of safety and accountability among drone operators in the increasingly crowded national airspaces around the world. Spearheaded by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with input from a variety of key industry figures and regulatory organizations, Remote ID aims to provide UAS (unmanned aerial systems) with a digital equivalent to the automobile license plate – as a physical printed number would obviously be impractical for small, fast-moving and high-flying objects.

This article will provide a summary of the recent developments in Remote ID regulations and implementations in various jurisdictions around the world.

A Brief Refresher on Remote ID

Remote ID is designed to enable enhanced situational awareness and traceability by providing essential information about the drone and its operator. While the exact information required depends on the specific regulations, it typically includes aircraft serial number, position, altitude and velocity, as well as the position of the operator or the drone’s take-off point. Remote ID capabilities can be embedded into the drone’s design by the manufacturer, or added to existing aircraft by means of a software upgrade or retrofitted hardware module.

Initially, two different forms of Remote ID were proposed. Broadcast Remote ID, also known as Direct Remote ID in the European Union, transmits the required information wirelessly over short distances using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. These broadcasts can then be picked up by anyone in the vicinity with a suitable handheld device and the right software application.

Network Remote ID is a more complex implementation that would allow additional functionality such as two-way communication and would also make the technology usable over much greater distances. The critical information is sent to a third-party service supplier via the Internet, typically using a cellular connection. The information can then be stored and disseminated upon request to relevant parties such as law enforcement, aviation authorities, and unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems.

Read this article to find out more about Broadcast/Direct Remote ID and Network Remote ID.

Remote ID in the United States

Within the United States, the FAA decreed that all drones weighing 250 grams (0.55 lbs) or more are subject to registration, and any drone that must be registered must also be Remote ID-compliant. Drones operated by the U.S. military are exempt from Remote ID compliance, and public safety agencies with specific security requirements may also be exempt following the go-ahead from the FAA.

The first Remote ID deadline mandated by the FAA was aimed at manufacturers, and how long since passed. Since December 2022, any manufacturer wishing to sell drones within the United States that require registration must submit for approval a Means of Compliance proving that their products meet requirements.

The second major Remote ID deadline was initially set for September 2023 and extended by six months to March 16, 2024, to allow operators and pilots time to ensure that their equipment is Remote ID-compliant. Either the aircraft or the add-on Remote ID module must be listed on the FAA’s Declaration of Compliance list. Enforcement of these regulations may involve fining non-compliant pilots or revoking their remote pilot certificate.

The second deadline was extended for a number of reasons, chief among them being low initial availability of Remote ID modules for retrofitting older drones, as well as delays among manufacturers in updating their hardware or providing sufficient firmware updates. Just days before the final March deadline, drone forensics company SkySafe released a report showing that five out of the seven major drone manufacturers covered in their analysis fell short of the Remote ID requirements in a variety of ways.

All current Remote ID regulations in the United States relate to Broadcast Remote ID only. While the FAA mentioned Network Remote ID in its proposed ruling, all requirements for this were dropped for the final ruling.

Network Remote ID will be essential for the implementation of unmanned traffic management services into the national airspace. While the FAA has not published any deadlines, it continues to investigate the possibilities of integrating this technology. A January 2024 report by the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) recognized that the adoption of network-based systems would come with a broad set of challenges, including security, privacy, and the lack of wireless internet access in many rural and remote areas of the country.

A number of industry bodies, research institutions, and local jurisdictions are also conducting their own research – one recent development saw the city of El Paso, Texas become the first in the nation to implement a fully networked Remote ID system, monitoring drones within a 500 square mile area of the city airport.

Remote ID in the European Union

Like the FAA, the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) requires registration for all drones weighing 250 grams (0.55 lbs) or more. Almost all these drones must also comply with Remote ID regulations, with some exceptions such as tethered drone systems. As of January 1st 2024, all applicable drones operating in the European Union, as well as in Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland, must be compliant with EASA regulations.

Remote ID requirements within the EU are currently based on the broadcast implementation. One small difference from the FAA rules is that the EASA requires the operator registration number to both be broadcast wirelessly and marked clearly on the side of the drone itself.

The EASA is pursuing Network Remote ID more proactively than the FAA, and has already confirmed that the enhanced technology will be mandatory for participation in the European version of UTM known as U-space. Network Remote ID is the first of four stages in the roadmap to complete U-space implementation, with the further stages including geo-awareness, co-ordination with manned air traffic control, and flight authorization.

The latest report released by the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) in October 2022 predicts that 41% of EU member states will have implemented Network Remote ID by 2025. This number is not expected to change through 2027, showing that EU-wide network identification, and thus the first stage of shared airspace between manned and unmanned aircraft, is still some way off.

Get a more in-depth look at the differences and similarities between FAA and EASA Remote ID requirements.

Remote ID elsewhere in the World

The United Kingdom has yet to implement concrete regulations for Remote ID. The UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) is currently investigating a number of possibilities, including a hybrid system that merges Broadcast and Network Remote ID. If implemented, Remote ID regulations are likely to apply to drones weighing 250 grams (0.55 lbs) or more, as in the US and EU. A public consultation phase recently closed on January 10, 2024, and it is believed that the government is working towards a deadline of April 2026 to get any agreed-upon solution into place.

In Australia, there is much discussion led by the Government Department of Infrastructure, Transportation, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts on which are the best practices to turn to regulation for recreational and commercial drones. They are considering both the Network and Broadcast Remote ID.

Japan was one of the first countries in the world to usher in Remote ID regulations, with implementation beginning in June 2022. All drones weighing more than 100 grams must be registered and must also be equipped with broadcast Remote ID functionality either natively or via an approved add-on module.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) published legislation on November 23, 2023, stating that any drone over 200 grams operating in VLL (very low level) airspace must communicate continuously with an authorized UTM network. These drones must broadcast data as defined by ASTM F3411-22a, which is the same standard that FAA Remote ID regulations are based on. This ruling makes Israel the first country in the world to mandate Network Remote ID. Elsight’s partner High Lander has received the first license from the CAAI to operate such an authorized UTM system.

Elsight’s Halo – a communications solution with built-in FAA- and EASA-compliant Remote ID

As the drone industry continues to grow and airspaces become more crowded, safety becomes even more paramount. Remote ID is just one tool in the toolbox, especially for commercial BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) drones, which need robust connectivity and confidence that vital command, control and payload data will always get through.

Elsight’s Halo platform is a proven solution to this problem, allowing your drones to combine multiple cellular connections with SATCOM and RF to provide a versatile and secure link with no single point of failure. Halo provides the critical redundancy required for safe drone operations, and can also aggregate the bandwidth of all available links to maximize data streaming performance.

In addition, Halo provides built-in Remote ID capabilities that are compliant with both FAA and EASA regulations and support both Broadcast and Network Remote ID functionality. With no need for an additional module, you can optimize the SWaP (size, weight, and power) budget of your drone while flying with complete peace of mind.

Related Resources – The FAA’s hub for Remote ID information – The EASA’s Easy Access Rules for UAS, which cover drone classification and registration, Remote ID and more – The latest report from Eurocontrol on the progress of U-Space implementation within the EU – A 2024 report on the UK CAA’s latest review of UAS regulations – Remote Identification Discussion Paper for Public Consultation by the Australian Government Infrastructure, Transportation, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

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