DJI has unveiled drone-to-phone tracking in response to privacy

China’s DJI, the world’s largest commercial drone maker, said on Wednesday it was developing technology that would allow the public to track drone registrations on a flight using just one smartphone, under pressure from a wide range of industries to make such data available.

SZ DJI Technology aims to roll out a free app in 2020, pending regulatory approval, which will allow its users to identify any modern drone with a phone for the first time, company executives told Reuters.

The push for remote detection technology comes within the control call for greater surveillance of drone flights, fearing that unexpected, unmanned aircraft could be used for spying or accidentally disrupt commercial flights.

DJI, which has an estimated 70 percent market share, unveiled its drone-to-phone transmission app at the United Nations Aviation Organization’s drone-enabled conference in Montreal, according to industry analysts.

“We’ve developed a remote identification solution that works with what people already have,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president for policy and law.

Although remote identification technology is already available on the market, tools are involved to purchase services and often target groups such as companies, airports and law enforcement, industry executives say.

DJI says its app will work on drones within a 1-kilometer (0.62-mile) range using WiFi-enabled smart phones.

Flight delays and cancellations at the airport have resulted in unauthorized drone flying and sightings, costing the aviation industry millions of dollars.

Regulators such as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are looking at ways to better track and identify drones, such as the use of industrial vehicle license plates, before final regulations.

“Remote identification is the FAA’s # 1 priority with unmanned systems,” said Philip Kenuel, who chairs an industry-led committee on drone identification standards.

By improving drone tracking capabilities, companies like DJI aim to avoid a crackdown on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in times of increasing demand.

Global spending on drones is expected to reach $ 12.3 billion (approximately Rs 88,700 crore) in 2019, up from $ 9 billion a year ago, according to research firm IDC.

DJI’s Shulman says people are concerned about drones violating privacy, so they call for restrictions on drones. “Instead of restricting operators, you can actively punish malicious operations,” he said.

ম Thomson Reuters 2019

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