As of December 31, 2020, the national rules in European Union member states have been replaced by a common EU regulation. One of the major changes is the mandatory use of a remote ID system in almost any drone.
What is remote ID?
"‘Direct remote identification’ means a system that ensures the local broadcast of information about an unmanned aircraft in operation, including the marking of the unmanned aircraft, so that this information can be obtained without physical access to the unmanned aircraft" (EU 2019/947)
So what does this mean? Any drone with which an operator wishes to fly within the new 'Open' and 'Specific' categories, will need to have the ability to send out information about the flight. This includes the operator's registration number, a unique identifier of the drone, its location, heading, and speed, and if available, the pilot location.
This information is broadcasted in such a way that it can be received by any recent mobile phone. Currently this comprises of Bluetooth, WiFi Aware, or WiFi Beacon packages. This means that if you see a drone, and it is legally sending out its remote ID (similar to having a license plate), you should be able to whip out your mobile phone and check all available information on the drone.
How does this affect you?
Obviously it depends on what your purpose is. For the general public it will hopefully help in battling the fear of unknown drones, and helping in the public acceptance of the use of drones.
For the drone enthusiast that wishes to just buy a drone and fly, the new legislation brings many opportunities. You will be able to fly in many more locations than which was possible in the previous legislation. But it also comes with some responsibilities. Before receiving an operator registration number, which is mandatory for almost all flights, you will need to follow a (free) online course in your country of residence, and pass an (also free) online examination. After passing the examination you will receive your personal operator registration number which can then be uploaded to your new remote-id-capable drone.
The biggest impact however is for organizations or enterprises that wish to gain awareness of what is happening in the low level airspace above their domains. The intended use of the remote ID was for the general public to be aware of drones flying in their environment. But by tweaking the sensing module with better antennas and some smart signal processing, Senhive has produced the Sen-ID which is capable of detecting the remote IDs up to a distance of 5km. Not only that, but by adding multilateration algorithms to the detected signals, it enables an additional security layer as a secondary system of localizing the drone. Protecting against GPS failure of "spoofing" of these remote identification signals.
I don't have remote ID on my drone yet, does that mean I can no longer fly?
No, since there are almost no drones available yet with the necessary remote identification, and to avoid that everyone has to buy a new drone straight away, the legislation allows for a transition period in which you can still fly in a more restricted transitional open category. However, it is likely that many new geozones will be introduced that will have additional restrictions on which flights may be performed.
Want to know more about geozones? Stay tuned for our next blog post...