Drone Manufacturers Tested for Remote ID Compliance

With nearly 3.5M drones currently in use in the U.S., findings from SkySafe show that five out of seven drone manufacturers tested were not Remote ID compliant by the March 16th deadline By Abi Wylie / 18 Mar 2024
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New research findings have been released by SkySafe, a global leader in drone tracking data and intelligence, to determine which commercial drone manufacturers will be Remote ID compliant on Saturday, March 16. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s original deadline was in September 2023 for drones over 250 grams to broadcast identifying and positional information while in flight. That deadline was extended to March 16, 2024 to give manufacturers and operators more time to get ready. 

Drone operators found not to comply by the 16th could face fines and suspension or revocation of pilot certificates.

According to the FAA, more than 1M drones are registered in the United States today, with nearly 3.5 million total drones currently in use. The global commercial drone market will reach $58.4 billion in 2026. Growth at this pace necessitates the ability for authorities to differentiate authorized drones from those that may pose a threat. 

Remote ID is often likened to a digital license plate that provides a means for public safety and other authorized officials to identify the owner of a small UAS if flying in an unsafe manner or a restricted area.

SkySafe’s research team sought to uncover the implementation details of standard Remote ID drones across seven manufacturers: DJI, Skydio, Autel, Parrot, SwellPro, EXO, and Yuneec. The research was initiated to determine how comprehensively manufacturers implemented the new Remote ID standards to make rule enforcement possible.

The scope of flawed Remote ID implementations discovered by SkySafe’s research team in standard Remote ID drones flags the question of culpability. 

Significant inconsistencies in implementing the FAA-required specifications outlined in ASTM F3411 – 22a, “Standard Specification for Remote ID and Tracking,”  raise concerns and questions about accountability among many manufacturers SkySafe tested. 

While one of the seven followed the implementation perfectly, others ranged from confusing to potentially “disastrous,” and in one case, claims of support are being made where no such support exists.

Only American drone company Skydio has properly implemented standard Remote ID technology in its current fleet models. 

  • Skydio‘s implementation of Remote ID earned a “Fully Ready” grade due to its accurate and robust implementation, which includes the use of compliant serial numbers and prohibiting its users from disabling Remote ID broadcasts in its mobile app.
  • DJI – received a “Minor Issues”
  • Parrot – received a “Needs Improvement”
  • Autel – received a “Major Flaws”
  • SwellPro – received a “Not Compliant” grade as there is no evidence of any Remote ID support in any of their drones as of February 2024. The SwellPro website claims support will be ready by March 2024 but includes no additional information on implementation.

SkySafe also examined EXO and Yuneec drones which received “Not Compliant”. EXO is marketed as made by an American company but are rebranded Hubsan drones. One of EXO’s standard Remote ID drones had no Remote ID (or FCC) compliance markings or serial numbers anywhere on the product packaging, exterior, or controller. No transmission of any Remote ID types were detected, either.

SkySafe’s detailed findings for each of the seven manufacturers can be found on the company’s website. 

Vendors need to revisit their efforts around Remote ID implementation to rectify these shortcomings and ensure pilots can operate their drones safely and compliantly. Pilots can comply with the Remote ID requirement by upgrading older aircraft with a Remote ID module or operating a standard Remote ID drone. 

Embracing a culture of responsiveness around industry standards ensures the safeguarding of innovation and safety in the ever-evolving landscape of sUAS technology.

Posted by Abi Wylie Connect & Contact