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The World’s Biggest Drone Maker Has a Plan for Tracking UAVs

October 25, 2017

There may be an easy way to know which drones you should allow to fly, and which to shoot out of the sky.

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI has developed a new system that it calls AeroScope, which could allow law enforcers to easily identify robotic aircraft as they fly. The technology would allow authorized users, such as the police, to tap some information from the control signals of drones within a three-mile radius. That would provide details such as location, altitude, velocity, origin, and serial number of the drones in the area, allowing authorities to work out whether the aircraft should really be there.

At a launch event today in Washington, D.C., DJI’s VP of policy and legal affairs, Brendan Schulman, told The Verge that the system is supposed to strike a balance, providing law enforcers with details to help them with their work while also respecting the rights of drone operators. It's a tough line to walk, given the total lack of consensus from aviation regulators in the U.S. govenrment. A panel at the Federal Aviation Administration was supposed to suggest rules on how best to track drones but admitted earlier this month that it couldn’t reach any firm conclusions.

The DJI approach will, obviously, only allow authorities to keep tabs on DJI drones. And until a similar system spreads through the industry, AeroScope alone isn't a whole lot of use. But given that DJI is the world’s biggest supplier of consumer robotic aircraft, there’s a chance that it could set a trend.

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