Amid privacy backlash, China's DJI unveils drone-to-phone tracking

Amid privacy backlash China's DJI unveils drone-to-phone tracking

DJI is releasing an app that identifies drones within 1km range

Participants used standard phones from Samsung, Google and Xiaomi to receive Wi-Fi Aware signals from a DJI Mavic Air drone and a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise drone.

The push for remote recognizable proof innovation comes in the midst of administrative calls for more prominent oversight of automaton flight, on fears that untraceable, unmanned flying machine could be utilized for spying or unintentionally disturb business flights.

From the end of November, it will be a mandatory requirement for drone pilots (including children) to register any drone or model aircraft weighing between 250g (9oz) and 20kg (44lbs). To tackle the issue, most governments are pushing for drone registration and now DJI is releasing a drone identification app that's coming very soon.

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Industry is eying ways to better track and identify drones similar to the use of license plates for cars, ahead of eventual rules from regulators like the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

DJI's VP of policy and legal affairs, Brendan Schulman, said that "they've created a remote identification solution that works with what people already have". The rulemaking process will take more than a year to complete, but an FAA industry committee has urged manufacturers to develop voluntary remote ID systems in the interim.

Tracking technology will be available to the public via smartphone applications, said DJI. "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". The system works with new drone firmware and an app that aren't yet available to the public. The news was announced in the middle of a broader impetus for transparency of data on the drone industry.

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However, DJI believes it can offer help as it exploits a protocol called "Wi-Fi Aware", with which drones broadcast information about itself. "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".

The info you'll be able to glean will include the drone's ID number, as well as its location, speed, altitude and direction.

To be sure, this new application will not be as strong as AeroScope, proprietary system to track down a rogue drone released by 2017.

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The app could make it much easier for people to identify drones, which was possible before but mostly through paid services and dedicated equipment.

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