Since 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been rolling out different stages of a new rule on remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). By mid-September of 2023, all drone pilots will be required to comply with the requirements set out by the new rule.
Some drone pilots and enthusiasts are understandably curious—and perhaps concerned—about what this means for them. We wrote up a quick guide to help you understand the specifics and the ramifications.
What is Remote ID?
In simple terms, Remote ID is a new FAA rule that requires all drones to broadcast identification information while in flight, via a built-in broadcast feature or remote broadcast module. There are also some FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs) where drones can fly without broadcasting.
What’s the purpose of Remote ID?
There are many reasons why the FAA is enforcing Remote ID.
- In the United States, drones aren’t allowed to fly more than 400 feet above aground level without a waiver from the FAA (which, for the record, is pretty difficult to get). Additionally, there are many restricted airspaces, protected lands, and other areas where it’s illegal to fly a drone. Remote ID makes it much easier to catch people breaking this rule.
- Personal safety and privacy. Legally, you can fly a drone over private property as long as you don’t cause any damage to people or property or violate anyone’s privacy. However, some people might have different definitions of privacy invasion. If you notice that someone is flying a drone a little too close for comfort, you can see who the operator is and report it.
- Public safety. Irresponsible operation of a drone can cause major problems. If a drone crashes into another aircraft or plummets toward a group of people, the consequences can be dire—even tragic. Remote ID makes it possible for law enforcement to keep a much closer eye on risky situations, and if something bad does happen, they know who to hold responsible.
What information is broadcast by Remote ID?
Just about everything. The make and model of the drone, where it’s currently located, how fast and how high it’s flying, and where the operator is.
Who can see Remote ID information?
Anyone with a smartphone.
It’s not just law enforcement. Anyone, including you, can download an app that shows nearby drones and broadcasts this information. At this time, the most popular Remote ID apps are Open Drone ID, Drone Scanner, and Dronfinder.
I’m a drone pilot. Does Remote ID really show my location when I’m flying my drone?
Yes. Remote ID has a user tracing feature that allows people to see where the pilot is located. The reason behind it is liability. As we mentioned before, if someone is flying a drone illegally or causes damage with their drone, law enforcement needs to be able to identify and locate that person.
It’s not a popular feature. The drone community is understandably concerned about pilot safety and frustrated with the implications regarding their privacy. Anyone who sees your drone on one of the apps can figure out exactly where you are and confront you in person, even if you’re not doing anything wrong.
I’m a little worried about what Remote ID’s user tracing feature means for my safety as a drone pilot. Any advice?
Yes. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself when flying your drone.
- Fly legally and don’t try to be sneaky. Don’t fly above 400 feet, don’t fly in restricted areas, don’t invade other people’s privacy, and don’t put people or their property at risk. As long as you’re complying with regulations on where, when, and how high you’re allowed to fly, you can prove that your activity is legal. Also, keep your registration certificate with you at all times, and make sure your drone is labeled.
- Don’t fly your drone in unsafe areas. Only you can decide whether a certain area is too sketchy for your comfort, but you might think of it this way: If you wouldn’t feel safe going for a walk there by yourself, maybe don’t fly your drone there. Also, don’t fly at night. Not only is it more dangerous, it’s illegal.
- Fly with a friend. Having someone with you may soothe your anxiety about the possibility of someone turning up to give you a hard time about flying your drone. Ask a friend or family member to tag along.
What’s the upside of Remote ID?
It’s easy to focus on the frustrating aspects of Remote ID, but there are some real benefits to this new rule. It’s likely that Remote ID will dramatically reduce irresponsible, illegal, and unethical drone use, which is a big win for public and personal safety. It’s much harder to be sea
Plus, for drone enthusiasts, Remote ID can be fun! If you see a cool drone flying overheard, you can look it up right away and see exactly what it is.
Interested in a drone of your own? Droneyard is proud to offer a curated selection of FAA-compliant drones with built-in features that make it easy for you to fly on the right side of the law. Take a look >