Remote identification is an essential component of developing an unmanned aircraft traffic management system (UTM). A UTM implemented across the national air space (NAS) would allow drones to operate beyond visual line-of-sight safely, without posing risk to other unmanned and manned aircraft. In order to track the status of drones and provide that information to UTM managers, the FAA must find a way to remotely identify drones and the persons flying them.
The FAA, NASA, and industry partners have established a research team to map out the development of a UTM. To further their research, and to begin developing and testing actual systems, the FAA has also announced a Remote ID Request for Information (RFI).
FAA ISSUES A REMOTE ID REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI)
The FAA is actively pursuing solutions for a system that can gather and share data needed to remotely identify small unmanned aircraft (sUAS) flying in the NAS.
In this pursuit, the FAA is looking to industry partners for help. On December 20, 2018, the FAA issued a Remote Identification RFI.
The purpose of the RFI is twofold:
- Engage with industry partners interested in becoming Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Service Suppliers (USS) with the intent of furthering remote ID technology
- Develop and demonstrate data sharing techniques for remote ID in the NAS
The RFI will help the FAA select a small group of industry partners to develop a technical and legal framework for initial prototyping and testing of a remote ID system. While the FAA is only looking to recruit a small group of eight USS, they intend to open the program for broader participation in the future.
REMOTE ID DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING HAS ALREADY BEGUN IN THE PRIVATE AND COMMERCIAL SECTOR
Some companies have already come together to show what a functional remote ID system could look like. While there is competition among individual stakeholders in remote ID, they’ve also demonstrated a valuable willingness to collaborate.
Amazon, Boeing, GE, and Google
At the 2018 FAA Symposium, Amazon, Boeing, GE, and Google announced that they are working on a private UTM system. The proposed system will allow drones to fly a couple of hundred feet above the ground and function on a network of cellular and web applications.
Amazon, Boeing, GE, and Google have expressed their interest in using drones to deliver goods, and are therefore stakeholders in remote ID and UTM development. These systems will need to be developed and put into place before these companies can offer routine drone deliveries to their customers in the U.S.