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DJI is releasing an app that identifies drones within 1km range

As drones are gaining popularity, there are concerns that drones may be used for illegal activities such as spying or disrupting commercial flights. You’ve probably heard news of flights being delayed as a result of unauthorised drones flown near the airport. To tackle the issue, most governments are pushing for drone registration and now DJI is releasing a drone identification app that’s coming very soon.

The app essentially allows anyone to detect and identify drones flying near you. According to Brendan Schulman, the Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs at DJI, they have created a remote identification solution that works with what people already have. Usually, such remote identification technology is offered as a paid service and it involves equipment that’s aimed at companies, airports and law enforcement.

The app will work on WiFi Aware-enabled smartphones and it can detect and identify drones within a 1-kilometre range. The app will also work with non-DJI drones that are manufactured in the past few years. The Shenzhen-based drone maker aims to release the free app sometime in 2020, subject to regulatory approval.

Unauthorised drone usage has cost the aviation industry millions of dollars due to delays and flight cancellation. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants a better way to track and identify drones, and the app will allow anyone to view registration details similar to licence plates used for cars.

In the US, the drones that weigh 250g and above must be registered with the FAA. Singapore is also pushing for a similar registration requirement for drones that weigh at least 250g. They are also planning to increase penalties for drone offences with up to two years in jail and a fine of up to SGD 50,000 for first-time offenders.

What’s interesting is that DJI had recently introduced the Mavic Mini. It weighs 249g which is light enough to avoid the registration requirement. The compact foldable drone was recently launched in Malaysia with a starting price of RM1,599.

What do you think about the drone identification app? Is it necessary to curb illegal drone usage? Let us know in the comments below.


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Alexander Wong