Overcoming 5 Limitations of the Remote ID Rule

April 19, 2021 | Assaf Monsa

My previous blog post was intended to help clarify some of the industry confusion around the term “remote ID ready” following the announcement of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) final rule on Remote ID. The FAA worked diligently with many industry partners and the public to create that final rule, which is a positive first step, but there are limitations:

  • Timing – drone manufacturers must integrate a remote ID broadcast by September 16, 2022. And all drone owners must meet operating requirements by September 16, 2023. This roughly 18–30-month period is relatively long, especially considering how fast drone technology, UAS traffic management (UTM) systems and the overall drone/counter-drone ecosystem are evolving.
  • Drone Model Exemptions – quite a few sUAS models are exempt from the final rule. For instance, lightweight drones (sUASs below 0.55 lbs., such as the DJI Mavic Mini) are not included. Many drones will broadcast their identity and location, but quite a few will not. Security teams will not be able to rely upon the final rule to accurately understand the actual drone threat they face.
  • Identity Masking – although the exact protocol through which the remote identification will be broadcast has not been set or approved by the FAA yet, it has been determined that the protocol will be open and non-proprietary (the physical layer will most likely be Wi-Fi or Bluetooth). Non-proprietary protocols are prone to identity masking or cloning methods, meaning a malicious drone operator could make his/her drone broadcast the ID of your authorized drone! Imagine the police showing you digital “evidence” that your drone was connected to drug smuggling across an international border, or that it caused a costly delay at a packed baseball game. This is a serious limitation of the final Remote ID rule.
  • Malicious Actors – many of the risks posed by drones are due to carelessness, but a significant percentage of the threats comes from malicious actors. Contraband smuggling into prisons, or potential terror attacks, are not perpetrated by people who want to be detected, located or identified. They will try to use older drones, lighter drones or DIY drones without a remote ID transmitter.
  • The Rest of the World – regulators across the globe have contemplated, issued and even enforced regulations like the Remote ID rule. But in many regions, such regulations will not be in place for years. And C-sUAS or drone technology that is dependent on the U.S. Remote ID rule may not be effective elsewhere.

D-Fend has developed multiple mechanisms to locate and identify drones, recognizing that this is a real requirement that cannot depend on regulators or the goodwill of drone operators. As noted in my previous post, one stage of our six-part drone incident lifecycle is entitled “Identify the Drone” and EnforceAir is proven to detect, identify and mitigate multiple drones simultaneously.

Already today we can identify drones from many manufacturers, regardless of their weight, date of manufacturing, or the country they fly in. The remote ID rule is an important step, but C-sUAS solutions must be independent of this regulation.

When customers ask whether D-Fend Solutions supports remote ID, we can say that officially we will almost immediately after the technical and regulatory details are set.  But our customers currently benefit from the data the remote ID regulation is meant to produce, and much more.

The best way to phrase it – D-Fend Solutions is more than ready for the Remote ID era. We are already helping our customers access much more than the data that the rule will generate, data that is vital to C-sUAS customers.

Assaf Monsa is the Chief Technology Officer at D-Fend Solutions. He has more than 20 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, technology and business executive. Prior to co-founding D-Fend Solutions over four years ago, Assaf managed large, international, multi-disciplinary teams at organizations across business verticals.

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