Editor’s note: This article on drone remote ID was originally posted on Sept. 7, 2023. On Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, the FAA announced that it would extend the Remote ID enforcement date by six months to March 16, 2024, giving drone pilots additional time to get into compliance. Learn more about the Remote ID extension here.
As of September 16, 2023, the drone remote ID rules start applying to drone pilots, too. The final rule for remote ID is a requirement from the Federal Aviation Administration mandating that drones must provide identification and location information, which can then be read by other parties. Consider a sort of electronic licensing plate system for drones, with a built-in layer of location information.
The FAA’s drone remote ID rules technically went into effect in September 2022, but the FAA actually gave a year for drone pilots to make sure their aircraft actually is equipped with Remote ID. That point comes on September 16, 2023 at exactly 12:01 a.m. — which isn’t far away.
At that point, all drone pilots required to register their UAS (which is most drone operators flying outdoors with drones that weigh 250 grams or more) must operate their aircraft in accordance with the final rule on remote ID.
What is drone remote ID?
The FAA’s rule on remote identification requires all drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (249 grams) to transmit their identification, location, and other information to ground stations and other aircraft.
The FAA says Remote ID is designed to improve safety and security in the National Airspace System (NAS). In theory, drones broadcasting their locations to other aircraft would help to prevent drone collisions. Remote Id could also have other use cases such as supporting law enforcement in tracking down drones being used for illegal activities. or quite simply flying where they shouldn’t be.
There are essentially four types of remote id-compliant drone flights, which are:
- Flying drones under 250 grams: If your drone is this small, there’s no need to broadcast Remote ID signals or have a separate module.
- Flying drones with built-in Remote ID capability: This is generally the case for new drones sold from major manufacturers. Pilots purchasing new, out-of-the-box drones likely need to take no action, as your drone is likely already compliant with this built-in module (but you should still check to see if your drone has Remote ID).
- Using a separate Remote ID module: Other drones that don’t already come with this built in, such as older or home-built drones, likely need a separate Remote ID module (read more on that later).
- Flying at a FRIA: FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA) are spots where drones without Remote ID broadcast capabilities can operate legally, and typically are located at parks owned by FAA-recognized community based organizations (like many model airplane fields) or educational institutions. Use the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery Service (UDDS) website to find a FRIA near you.
Does my drone have Remote ID?
The easiest way to tell if your drone has remote ID is by searching for the model of your aircraft on the FAA’s UAS Declaration of Compliance website. That website has a handle table tool, which you can search.
- Click on “View Public DOC List”
- Filter by “RID”
- Search for your drone or broadcast module
Among the most popular drone models that have remote ID include (this is not a comprehensive list, and might not necessarily be up-to-date, so confirm your own equipment with the FAA):
- Autel Dragonfish Series
- Autel EVO Max
- Autel Lite series
- Autel Nano Series
- DJI Air 2S
- DJI Avata
- DJI FPV
- DJI Inspire 3
- DJI M30 and M30T Dock Version
- DJI Matrice 300 RTK
- DJI Matrice 350 RTK
- DJI Mavic 3 series
- DJI Mavic Air 2S
- DJI Mini 2
- DJI Mini 3
- DJI Mini 3 Pro
- Holy Stone (various models, including HS720, HS720E, HS700E, HS720G, HS720R, HS600 and HSRID01)
- Parrot Anafi USA and Parrot Anafi Ai
- Skydio 2+
- Sony Airpeak S1
- Teal 2
If your drone or broadcast module is not on the FAA’s list (and it weighs 250 grams or more), you may only fly in a FRIA.
That said, simply having one of those drones isn’t not enough. Drone pilots must either register with the FAA – or update existing registration with fresh information.
As far as how drones actually broadcast their location, the power varies. For example, Red Cat’s integrated Remote ID system, found in the Teal 2 drone, broadcasts data from the flight control system about once per second to ensure a high level of accuracy. It uses Bluetooth 5, which allows the signal to be transmitted over a longer distance as far as a mile. In that example, the drone significantly outpaces the range of other systems on the market.
How to update your drone registration for Remote ID
So your drone or broadcast module is listed on the Public DOC List, phew! Still though, you need to register or update your existing drone registration through FAADroneZone. When you do, you’ll need include the Standard Remote ID drone or Remote ID broadcast module serial number.
To find the Remote ID serial number for your drone, you can usually find it by checking the battery compartment, packaging, the drone’s app, or the drone’s WLAN settings.
If you’re a recreational pilot, you only need to register once. From there, you can apply that unique registration number to multiple aircraft. If you’re using an external Remote ID broadcast module, you can simply move it from drone to drone as long as it is listed on the same registration.
But if you’re a Part 107 pilot (meaning you’re flying drones commercially) need to register each Standard Remote ID drone or Remote ID broadcast module separately. Yep, that means each one will get a unique registration number — even if you have a fleet of a hundred drone
How to find your DJI Remote ID serial number
This section is for DJI pilots only (which is most people!) who already have a drone purchased before the Remote ID rules were implemented. If that’s not you, skip this section. But if that is you, read on.
DJI has made a free software upgrade that brings most of its devices into compliance with the new Remote ID rules. But still, you’ll need to run and update — and find your DJI Remote ID serial number.
Here’s how you can find your DJI drone’s remote ID serial number:
- Update your DJI app on your smartphone or table
- Update your drone and remote controller’s firmware in order to receive the Remote ID.
- Once inside the DJI Fly App, tap the three dots and select “About” to access the Remote ID serial number. (Note that your drone’s serial number is different from the Remote ID number.)
And what if you have a DJI drone that’s not on the above list, or that otherwise isn’t Remote ID ready via the free upgrade? This doesn’t mean you can’t fly. Instead, you’ll simply have to purchase a separate, add-on Remote ID module.
How to add remote ID to your drone
Most drones, such as the aforementioned DJI products as well as others, like many Skydio drones, can be made Remote ID ready through free software updates.
You’ll also want to affix your Remote ID label to your drone. Some manufacturers have made it easy by issuing their own. For example, Sky made free Remote ID label templates that are based on FAA Standard Remote ID Compliant labels. Their label is fitted specifically to its drone shape, and can be taped to your drone.
Drone remote ID modules
If your drone doesn’t have a built-in module, then you’ll need a broadcast module, which is an external device that you can attach to the drone.
The smallest remote ID module we’ve seen so far on the market is the Dronetag DRI, which weighs only 1.5 grams, and is compliant with both US and EU remote ID regulations. That tiny little device is compatible with all standard Pixhawk controllers running PX4 or Ardupilot (which means many homebuilt drones). Plus, it costs just €49 (about $52).
Though for other drones, like older DJI models, you’ll need something a little more advanced.
There are about a half dozen companies who make remote ID modules. Dronetag has a whole line of remote ID modules to consider, and is generally the best, especially if you have a DJI drone:
There’s the Dronetag Beacon Broadcast Remote ID Module, which is super small as well — this one at 16 grams (about the size of two chocolate bar squares).
That’s basically the bare minimum to fly your drone under Remote ID compliance and can fit most drones. It can transmit your drone’s location via Bluetooth to up to a 3 km (1.86 miles) range.
It supports drones including the:
- Mavic 2 Pro
- Phantom 4 Pro
- Mavic Air 2
Also from the same company is the Drone Tag Mini. It’s more expensive than the Beacon, but it’s also more advanced, offering a full-featured, unlimited range and network direct and remote ID solution.
It works by transferring your drone’s position and identification to the company’s cloud. By transmitting your drone’s info via Bluetooth to up to 3 km (1.86 miles), you’ll be able to display your real-time flight data in the company’s own app (also called Dronetag).
Given that it’s a more robust product, it’s also bigger than the Beacon, coming in at 32 grams (twice the size of the Beacon).
Even still, the Dronetag Mini is attachable to any drone with a strong, re-closable dual lock fastener.
It sells for $329 on Adorama.
Most pilots are still not Remote ID ready
If you’re still not feeling ready for Remote ID, at least you’re not alone. Pilot Institute, which offers courses on drones, conducted a survey of 2,081 drone pilots to see how prepared they are for Remote ID.
Of the 2,081 respondents, 51% said they still needed at least one Remote ID module. Of that 51%, half (53%) said they would be forced into non-compliance once the new rule kicks in.
By Pilot Institute’s estimates, that’s 27% of the current, entire flying population.
Here are some key reasons why people say they’re currently still not ready for the new Remote ID rules, according to Pilot Institute’s survey:
- Modules are too expensive: 42% of survey respondents who said they needed a Remote ID module also said they didn’t order one because pricing was a concern.
- Modules are back ordered: Of that same group of people, 23% said they simply haven’t ordered modules because they’re either backordered or not available.
- Modules just aren’t here yet: 11% of that 51% grouping said they ordered modules, but they haven’t been delivered yet.
A key theme there is simply not enough modules. Pilot Institute estimates that more than 350,000 remote ID modules are needed in order to get all American drone pilots to compliance. By their estimates, we’re far from there.
“With current supply chain issues worldwide, with only 6 approved module manufacturers
and over 350,000 units needed, delaying enforcement until at least March 2024 would
help manufacturers catch up with demand,” according to a statement from Pilot Institute. That’s still over 2,200 units per manufacturer per week over the next 26 weeks.”
And then there is a group of pilots in opposition to the Remote ID rule. While the general drone industry’s response to the Remote ID rule has been largely positive (and that includes a generally-positive statement from DJI), not everyone is on board.
According to Pilot Institute’s survey, 15% of the flying population would voluntarily not comply with Remote ID requirements. Greg Reverdiau, Pilot Institute cofounder, says those stats give him pause as to Remote ID’s success. He’s even penned an open letter to the FAA asking them to delay Remote ID enforcement.
“Without widespread acceptance and compliance, Remote ID will fail and will be impossible to enforce,” he wrote in his open letter. “As it stands, 43% of operators will be forced into non-compliance in 2 weeks, or simply refuse to comply. This number can decrease if pilots and operators are given more time to comply.”
Are you ready for Remote ID? Tell us why or why not in the comments!
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