Drones should transmit identifier: manufacturer

By Joan Lowy, AP

By Joan Lowy WASHINGTON — The world’s largest manufacturer of civilian drones is proposing that the craft continually transmit identification information to help government security agencies and law enforcement figure out which might belong to rogue operators.

DJI, a Chinese company, said in a paper released Monday that radio transmissions of an identification code, possibly the operator’s Federal Aviation Administration’s registration number, could help allay security concerns while also protecting the operator’s privacy. The paper suggests steps that can be taken to use existing technologies to develop an identification system, and that operators could include more identification information in addition to a number if they wish.

Anyone with the proper radio receiver could obtain those transmissions from the drone, but only law enforcement officials or aviation regulators would be able to use that registration number to identify the registered owner.

Law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military raised security concerns last year after FAA officials proposed permitting more civilian drone flights over crowds and densely populated areas.

In response, the FAA announced in January that it was delaying a public notice of the proposal while the agency works to address the concerns. On Monday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta kicked off a three-day drone symposium in suburban Washington by announcing that the agency is forming an advisory committee to make recommendations on how to remotely track drones.