FAA considers remote identification system for drones in the US

To be effective, the registration requirement would likely need to be reinstated.

The FAA is still trying to figure out the best way to regulate drones to ensure safety. Last week, a committee tasked with tackling the issue met for the first time, including representatives from Amazon, Ford and NYPD. One of the items discussed was a better way to identify registered drones from the ground since any ID numbers are pretty much invisible while the UAV is airborne.

This could be a workable solution for commercial drones, but since a Washington, DC court struck down the FAA's registration requirement for personal machines last month, a remote ID system isn't the answer for all of the UAVs flown in the US -- right now, at least. As Recode notes, Congress is working to restore mandatory registration which would be key to tying a drone to its owner for the purposes of any remote identification. Of course, consumer drones have been used for all kinds of nefarious purposes and there are ways to get around any no-fly zones with the help of software.

The concept of remote identification for drones isn't a new idea. Back in March, DJI proposed what it calls an "electronic identification framework" for all drones that would give authorities in the US information about the owner when necessary. That proposal includes using the radio tech DJI says is already on most drones to transmit details like location and registration number. EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) made a similar recommendation back in January 2016.

Any discussion of an actual working remote ID system for drones in the US is still in the early stages, but the FAA committee is scheduled to meet again on July 18th. Any formal recommendations are currently due to the agency by September 30th.

Update: This post has been updated to clarify EPIC first proposed remote identification for drones in 2016.