Drone technology has evolved quickly over the last few years – from a few people owning drones to thousands of drones being bought every year. As a result of the advances in technology and the ease of access, drones have become pervasive in many industries, including agriculture, rescue missions, emergency response, and filming.
But the increase in drone traffic is not all glamour. It raises concerns about privacy violations, drug trafficking, and terrorism. With these concerns in mind, the FAA has decided to implement a way to identify drones through the use of Remote ID.
DJI is the leading drone company. So, we would expect them to be ahead of other companies in terms of developing the technology to comply with this requirement. So, are DJI drones equipped with Remote ID?
Most DJI drones have a form of remote ID that allows them to be identified by AeroScope and ADS-B to help law enforcement agencies detect drones from a distance. However, no DJI drone has yet been equipped with the FAA’s Remote ID system since the technical protocols are still in development.
In this article I’m going to cover everything you need to know about Remote ID, how DJI’s remote ID works, the drones equipped, and what to expect from the FAA’s Remote ID requirement.
What is Remote ID?
Remote ID is often compared to a car’s license plate. While license plates allow you to identify who owns the car, you can’t place a license plate on a drone. So, the FAA came up with a Remote ID, a system that allows a drone to send a Radio signal containing the drone’s altitude, take-off location, and ownership details (including the serial number).
This helps keep the airspace safer, as it allows authorities to identify the drones in any given airspace and the pilots flying them.
Any receiver can receive this signal, be it a tablet or smartphone. Some drone users were worried about their personal information being released, but the serial number is linked to your registration details at the FAA. Once the respective receiver or agency gets the serial number, they will need to go through the FAA to get the ownership details. With the FAA as the custodian, it’s doubtful that your information will end up in the wrong hands.
Drone Remote ID Regulations
Drone usage is highly restricted due to the potential dangers it poses to the public and overall national security. Delivery companies, law enforcement agencies, rescue agencies, and even hobbyists can’t accomplish most of the tasks they want to accomplish due to the regulations. Some of these include flying over people, flying over moving vehicles, or flying at night. But with the Remote ID regulations fully in place, the scope of drone usage will likely widen.
Initially, you had to apply for a waiver if you wanted to fly over people, at night, or over vehicle traffic. But according to the Final Drone Rules (link) published by the FAA on March 12, 2021, and which took effect on April 21, 2021, as long as you have a Part 107 license and have the Remote ID, you can fly in these specific previously restricted conditions as long as you don’t pose any danger to the people around that area.
There are four categories of eligibility for flying over people;
- Category 1 – A drone must weigh less than 0.55 pounds and any parts that could cause injuries to people should not be exposed.
- Category 2 – A drone should not cause any injury that’s equal to or greater than that caused by an 11 foot-pounds kinetic energy on impact, all parts that could cause lacerations should be covered, and all safety features should not have any defect. The drone pilot will need to provide means and declaration of compliance that the FAA approves.
- Category 3 – A drone should not cause any injury that’s equal to or greater than that caused by a 25 foot-pounds kinetic energy on impact, all parts that could cause lacerations should be covered, and all safety features should not have any defect. The drone pilot will need to provide means and declaration of compliance that the FAA approves.
- Category 4 – The drone pilot must obtain a Part 21 airworthiness certificate and fly their drone within the stipulated guidelines in the Flight Manual or as authorized by an administrator. The drone pilot should also carry out maintenance and alterations of the drones as per the Final Rule.
Other rules include;
- You should only fly in public in a restricted area and make sure the people in that area are aware of the drone operation.
- To fly at night, you should install anti-collision lights on your drone.
- To fly at night, you also need to take an online test and pass.
- The drone will broadcast the Remote ID signal either through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. There’s no need for an internet connection.
- Drones will not fly until they make sure Remote ID is working.
For more information about the exact FAA regulations, check out this document.
How to comply with Remote ID
There are three ways to comply with the FAA’s Remote ID requirement;
Standard Remote ID Broadcast
This is the method most drones released after September 2022 will have. Some of the information that will be broadcasted includes;
- Session ID, longitude and latitude, velocity, and the UAV’s serial number.
- The remote controller’s location or take-off point in longitude and latitude.
- Time Mark and Emergency Status
As mentioned earlier, the Remote ID system will not release your personal information. Only authorized law enforcement and security agencies can use the serial number to get your personal information from the FAA. But any other handheld receiver that’s within range will see your location.
Remote ID Broadcast Module
You can install a Remote ID Module for drones not compatible with Remote ID, such as older drone models or drones without GPS. What you’ll need to do is register this module with the FAA so that they’ll associate its serial number with your details. When flying, the module will transmit its location in longitude and latitude, the serial number, altitude, time mark, and the ground station (controller’s location). However, you can only use a drone with a module within visual line of sight.
FAA Recognized Free Areas (FRIAs)
FRIAs are areas that the FAA recognizes as safe and eligible for drone pilots without Remote ID to fly. After the Remote ID final rules start taking effect, organizations like schools, flight groups, etc., can apply to become FRIAs. It’s still unclear how they will operate and what you’ll need to do to fly a drone in an FRIA, so we hope the FAA will make efforts to clear that up. All we know is that you must fly your drone with line of sight while in the FRIA.
When will drones be required to have Remote ID?
By September 2022, all drone models that will are released into the market must be able to send Remote ID data. Those who already own drones have until September 2023 to install a system that allows them to send the Remote ID data.
This has caused a lot of confusion in the drone world since, even though the deadline is in 2023, now you’re being asked whether your drone is Remote ID enabled when registering your drone with the FAA.
Now, a lot of drones won’t manage to last until 2023, this in-between time, as they wait for the FAA to release the protocol for Remote ID so they can install it on their drones. The most likely option is when that the time comes, if your drone is still working and is compatible with Remote ID, you can install the necessary equipment.
If not, then you may have to purchase a new drone with the necessary Remote ID features.
Until that time, if you are asked if your drone has Remote ID capabilities when registering, a simple, honest answer of “No” will suffice, since the technology has not been rolled out yet, and it’s not actually required yet.
Will drones weighing under 0.55 lbs (250g) need Remote ID?
Drones weighing less than 0.55 lbs (250g) will not need to have Remote ID. According to the FAA, Remote ID is only applicable to drones that must be registered. That is, drones weighing more than 250g, at least in the recreational use category.
If you’re flying something like the Mini 2, which weighs less than 250g, as a commercial pilot for commercial purposes, you still need to register it, and it will also still require Remote ID.
Do DJI Drones Have Remote ID?
According to Brendan Schulman, former VP of Policy & Legal Affairs at DJI, DJI is working on a software update or add-on to allow older DJI drone models to have the Remote ID as they approach the deadline (source). He advises drone users not to worry about Remote ID but worry about flying drones under the current regulations.
He also encourages DJI drone users to rest assured that they will come up with an easy way for people to have Remote ID on their drones, both old and new models. After all, they have pioneered some of the best technologies for getting the most out of your drones. These include;
- AeroScope – A version of Remote ID that allows law enforcement and security agencies to detect drones from up to 5 kilometers away.
- Geofencing -Which prevents drones from flying in restricted airspaces.
- OcuSync – A system that allows DJI quadcopters to have some of the longest operating ranges of drones on the market.
- ADS-B Receivers – A system that allows drone pilots to detect oncoming traffic and avoid any interference.
Which drones have Remote ID?
It’s hard to say which drones are currently compatible with Remote ID since, as mentioned earlier, the protocols for Remote ID are still under development and have not been released yet. However, some DJI drones currently do have a type of Remote ID.
When the protocols are released, these are the drones that would easily comply, though we’ll have to wait and see how it will all play out.
Here are some of the DJI drones that are currently able to broadcast their ID, and will most likely easily upgrade to the FAA Remote ID requirements:
- DJI Inspire
- DJI Inspire 2
- DJI Inspire 2 Pro
- Mavic Air
- Mavic Air 2
- Mavic Mini
- Mavic Mini 2
- Mavic Pro
- Mavic 2 Pro
- Mavic 2 Zoom
- Mavic 2 Enterprise
- Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual and Advanced
- Matrice 200, 210, and 300
- Phantom 4
- Phantom 4 Multispectral
- Phantom 4 Pro
- Phantom 4 Pro V2
- Phantom 4 RTK
Remember the AeroScope system I mentioned earlier? The drones discussed above are some of the models that this system can receive and interpret broadcasts from. Others have an ADS-B system I mentioned earlier that makes them identifiable, although that is still not an acceptable form of Remote ID according to the FAA requirements.
Is DJI FPV Remote ID Equipped?
The DJI FPV drone is Remote ID equipped, but not with the Standard Remote ID Broadcast. Instead, this drone has a Remote ID Broadcast Module. That’s because most FPV drones aren’t compatible with Remote ID because of their mode of transmission.
As mentioned earlier, the Remote ID Broadcast Module is a suitable alternative to complying with remote identification. Hopefully, the FAA will develop regulations or protocols on how even FPV drones can function smoothly with Remote ID.
Where is the Remote ID for the DJI Mavic Air 2?
Below is how you can find the Remote ID on your Mavic Air 2 and other DJI drones.
- Switch on your drone and connect to the controller.
- Go to settings by clicking on the three dots at the top right corner.
- Click on the quadcopter icon, which will take you to the Main Controller Settings.
- Find Remote Identification and click on it.
- Here, you will find the UUID, which stands for Unique User Identification code. It is often switched on, but you can switch it on or off when needed. When you register with DJI through the app, your app gets a unique identification code which anyone with a receiver will see as long as you have switched it on.
- Below the UUID is the Identification and Flight Information which is also optional. You can enter your name or any other name in the identification field and enter what you will be using your drone for.
Bear in mind that this still isn’t the Remote ID that will be rolled out in the next few years, and does not yet transmit all the information required under the FAA ruling. This is DJI’s way of identifying drones through the AeroScope system. Whether the FAA will use the same system or a different system is still unclear.
Does the Mavic Mini 2 need Remote ID?
If you’ll be using your DJI Mini 2 for commercial purposes, it will need to have Remote ID. The DJI Mini 2 weighs less than 250g, and according to FAA rules, all drones that will be used for commercial purposes should be registered, regardless of their weight. The Remote ID is also part of the requirements for any drones used in line with the Part 107 License. But for recreational purposes, you don’t have to comply with the Remote ID when flying the Mini 2 or any other sub-250-gram drone.
Where can I find the DJI serial number?
For all DJI drones, you can find the serial number on the app. Once the drone is on and connected to the controller, click on the three dots on the top right corner. On the page that appears, click “About” and scroll until you find the Flight Controller Serial Number. That’s the Serial Number you use to register your drone.
The whole Remote ID thing is a little confusing. But as most drone experts will advise you, you don’t have to worry about it for now. You have up to September 2023 to start thinking about it. Hopefully, everything will be more straightforward by then. And we will do our best to update you with any information forthcoming from the FAA. For now, keep flying drones using the current FAA rules.