A new guideline for a remote ID system for unmanned aircraft has been recently submitted for approval, which will make it possible for drones to carry digital license plates. The newly proposed standard, ASTM WK65041, sets up guidelines for how drones can identify themselves to remote observers, as well as for how to set up systems to read that data.

Remote ID System

“We’re working with a lot of drone manufacturers on this standard—DJI, for instance,” says Philip Kenul, chairman of ASTM International’s Committee F38 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which helped develop the newly proposed standard. “Many other companies are working with us as well, such as Google Wing and Amazon, and will comply with the standard.” There would be ID data that can be transferred via wi-fi or Bluetooth as part of the messages which will also make these signals readable from a distance of 350 to 450 meters. “Intel has done studies showing that when Bluetooth 5 comes out, we could expect a range of up to a kilometer,” Kenul says.

digital license plates for drones
The working of the ASTM Remote ID (Digital License Plates) by Airmap. [Image source: Airmap]

Looking up data on the drone will be possible by apps on smartphones or other devices which will then connect to the internet. The drone’s ID number or registration number will be available to the public. The ID data will be able to give information like its latitude, longitude, altitude, speed, direction, and takeoff point, plus its owner and operator data, and the stated purpose of the flight. There are options like the drone that can also be identified if it is connected to the internet which will help if an observer does not have the remote ID app if the drone is out of range or moving too quickly for the app to acquire its signals.

The new drones coming in will be automatically outfitted with such digital license plates. Remote ID systems are key to the development of a UAS traffic management (UTM) system, Kenul says. “Everyone knows UTM is important for drone applications, from package delivery to medical delivery, to urban area inspections, to operations after a hurricane,” he notes. “Remote ID is the first building block for UTM.”