DJI Develops 'AeroScope' to Track & Identify Drones Remotely

Drone manufacturing tech giant, DJI, is ramping up its efforts to strengthen security, privacy and safety techniques. This time, its developed a tracking and identifying technology called 'AeroScope' to ID drones from afar. 

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Shenzhen-based drone manufacturer, DJI, has developed a new technology to track and identify its drones from great distances. AeroScope, as the company calls it, is a receiver that will be able to determine a DJI drone’s registration number, before plotting them on a map for complete aerial coherence. In last Thursday’s official press release, DJI stated that this new approach will “address safety, security and privacy concerns” even further. As a close observer of DJI, it’s no surprise the company is putting those aspects at the forefront of their business—it hasn’t exactly been a smooth quarter for the company.

This new receiver will utilize existing communication methods between a drone and its remote controller to reveal the unmanned aerial vehicle's registration and serial number, general telemetry data such as speed, altitude, direction, and location, and allow authorities to monitor and analyze this information using an AeroScope receiver. Essentially, DJI wants to make all significant information of its drones in use easily available to any aviation or local authorities, presumably to establish a firm foundation of trust in its brand. DJI has already made strides in that department by recently developing a 'local data mode' to assuage cyber-vulnerability concerns in the wake of the Pentagon issuing a military-wide ban on the company's equipment

“As drones have become an everyday tool for professional and personal use, authorities want to be sure they can identify who is flying near sensitive locations or in ways that raise serious concerns,” Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president for policy and legal affairs stated in the press release. “DJI AeroScope addresses that need for accountability with technology that is simple, reliable and affordable – and is available for deployment now.” Last Thursday, DJI presented the reliability of AeroScope to onlookers in Brussels, Belgium, demonstrating how efficiently the new tech can identify and track a DJI drone mid-flight. Apparently, as soon as the drone was switched on, the receiver provided a registration number and simultaneously plotted the UAV on a map. 

Reportedly, AeroScope is compatible with all currently existing DJI drones, which some analysts claim make up over two-thirds of the world's recreational drone market. Fortunately, no drones will require extra equipment or modification as AeroScope uses pre-existing communication links, allowing for this backward-compatibility. In addition, for those averse to being tracked and identified—potentially by law enforcement—DJI states in its press release that "most drone flights will not be automatically recorded in government databases, protecting the privacy interests of people and businesses that use drones." 

Schulman added that "Electronic drone identification, thoughtfully implemented, can help solve policy challenges, head off restrictive regulations, and provide accountability without being expensive or intrusive for drone pilots." And while some of us may be hesitant to share that enthusiasm, he does have a point. It was only this past weekend that somebody crashed their drone into a commercial airplane attempting to land in Québec's Jean Lesage International Airport—with authorities still unclear as to who was responsible. A tracking method like DJI's AeroScope would've certainly held that person accountable, potentially warding off future irresponsible pilots from endangering other people's lives.