DJI has announced that it has demonstrated a new Wi-Fi-based remote identification solution for UAS (unmanned aerial systems) that broadcasts information from drones directly to off-the-shelf mobile phones using existing Wi-Fi protocols. The new solution allows users to monitor nearby drones for enhanced safety and security, and broadcasts the location, altitude, speed and direction of the drone, as well as an identification number for the drone and the location of the pilot.
The system, developed in conjunction with industry stakeholders and regulators, was demonstrated in a park in Montreal, Canada, during the International Civil Aviation Organization’s third annual Drone Enable conference. Participants used standard Samsung, Google and Xiaomi smartphones to receive Wi-Fi Aware signals from a DJI Mavic Air drone and a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise drone.
Many aviation authorities around the world are planning to require remote ID systems for drones as a solution to concerns about drone safety and security. Both the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will impose remote ID requirements in the near future.
DJI’s system, which is based on the company’s DJI AeroScope remote ID system for airports, prisons, stadiums and other critical locations, has been designed to conform to a forthcoming standard for broadcast drone remote ID proposed by ASTM International. The solution uses the Wi-Fi Aware protocol for mobile phones, which allows the phones to receive and use the Wi-Fi signals directly from the drones without having to complete a two-way connection. Because it does not need to connect to a Wi-Fi base station, a cellular network or any other external system, it works in rural areas with no telecom service. In DJI’s preliminary testing, the Wi-Fi Aware signals were able to be received from more than one kilometer away.
Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs, said: “Remote ID functions as an electronic license plate for drones, allowing anyone who is curious about a drone in the sky to learn more about what it’s doing. Around the world, aviation authorities have said remote ID is the key to allowing more complex drone use, and to solving concerns about safety and security. DJI’s direct drone-to-phone remote ID shows we’re committed to providing a solution in a way that is instantly usable worldwide without any additional infrastructure.”
Javier Caina, DJI Director of Technical Standards, commented: “Our direct drone-to-phone solution is an easy and elegant solution for drone pilots. They will be able to comply with Remote ID expectations simply by updating the software on many drones already in widespread use, without any extra cost or equipment. In contrast, remote ID solutions that require pilots to add telecommunications equipment, subscribe to an ID service provider, connect to a cell tower or buy a data plan for their drone will create new costs and barriers for beneficial drone operations. DJI’s direct drone-to-phone solution uses the latest technological advances to make remote ID compliance as easy and inexpensive as possible.”
Christian Struwe, DJI Policy Director Europe, said: “As more drones take to the skies every day, remote ID addresses the public’s interest in understanding what’s happening in the airspace. DJI’s drone-to-phone implementation helps accomplish that by allowing drone pilots to broadcast a simple description of their flights, so anyone viewing the smartphone app can understand that they are inspecting a roof, surveying a construction site, or performing another beneficial task with a drone.”
A spokesperson from Wi-Fi Alliance, a worldwide network of more than 850 companies, commented: “Wi-Fi is the premiere way to connect devices in the modern era, and we are pleased that Wi-Fi Aware from Wi-Fi Alliance provides a reliable, virtually cost-free solution for drone Remote ID that can be implemented in many drones with just a software update. Wi-Fi Alliance will help facilitate broad industry collaboration on implementation of Wi-Fi Aware as this solution is adopted by manufacturers and policymakers.”