DJI, the leader in consumer and professional drones, is launching its own WiFi based drone identification and tracking system, Aeroscope, aimed at placating regulators who want to put limits on small drone flights.
The announcement is aimed at preemptively appease regulators such as the UK’s CAA, the EU’s EASA and US’s FAA as they look at the question of “unmanned traffic management”, or UTM.
Aeroscope will operate on the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz Wi-Fi bands and broadcast each drone’s “position, altitude, direction and speed, make and model, serial number, and any additional ID info that pilots wants to provide.
Conceptually, the system will operate in the same manner as manned aviation TCAS (traffic collision and avoidance systems), albeit on WiFi bands rather than the 1.3GHz frequency reserved for TCAS. This, DJI said, is because its drones are already fitted with WiFi radios and using those bands avoids the problem of a hardware upgrade across hundreds of thousands of customer devices.
AeroScope will be included in the existing DJI GO App and as a firmware cor compatible drones but to protect customers’ privacy, the AeroScope system will not automatically transmit any personally identifiable information until regulations or policies in the pilot’s jurisdiction require it.
The transmitted information will be picked up by Propriety DJI receivers placed on the ground at sites like airports. It will also be able to be taken mobile in a vehicle to detect drones.
Which drones will it apply to?
DJI said that “all current models of DJI drones” work with AeroScope. It is not clear at this point whether or not the system can pick up drones from other brands. However due to the great variety of technologies and parts available on the market, it is unlikely that AeroScope can identify and track all the aircraft. DJI drones emit on the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, but many other bands are used in the drone industry such as 433 MHz, 800/900 Mhz and 1.2/1.3 GHz. On top of that, DJI does not have access to the communication protocol used by other drones. It cannot read and decode the telemetry stream without knowing the language (or having the license). However, DJI said that “other drone manufacturers can easily configure their existing and future drones to transmit identification information in the same way.” This leaves the door open for other brands who would like be part of DJI’s system.
What is the detection range of AeroScope?
Being a passive system, the range only depends of the reception capabilities of the system. Given the quality of the digital radio link used on DJI drones, the range should be at least similar to the maximum control range. If AeroScope is equipped with a signal amplifier and a high gain diversity antenna, this number can easily be doubled to reach 20 miles of range.
Who can use thr AeroScope receiver?
Aeroscope will only be available to authorised personnel. DJI mentioned that “police, security agencies, aviation authorities, and other authorised parties can use an AeroScope receiver.”
For more information about AeroScope, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.