back to article Whose drone is that? DJI unveils UAV traffic tracking system

DJI, the Chinese drone firm, is launching its own Wi-Fi based drone identification and tracking system, Aeroscope, aimed at placating regulators who want to put limits on small drone flights. The move is to pre-emptively appease regulators such as the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, the EU’s EASA and US’s FAA as they look at …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me (I2JM) ..

    .. or are we wandering into an overload of TLAs (OOT) here where everything said (ES) has to be turned into TLA (TIT) or FLA (TITOF) for no apparent reason (FNAR)?

    From a readability point of view (POV) it's basically text based coitus interruptus (TBCI), less messy but just as unsatisfying.


    * I do appreciate someone mentioning the applicable TLAs, but if you're writing an article where they only appear once (OAO) there's no reason to even use the TLAs (UTT). There's also such a miraculous thing as a hyperlink which could offer further explanations, but that would probably be too modern :).

  2. SkippyBing Silver badge

    I think not talking to TCAS is probably the right choice, ignoring the cost issues*, the kind of density of traffic you can get with UAVs is not what it was designed to cope with. Plus as they say there's considerable separation between airliners, the main users of TCAS, and the average drone.

    What could be useful is some sort of unit that would allow general aviation and military aircraft, ie stuff that flies much lower, to link into the system. At the very least to get warning of drone operations before flying through them. You could probably re-purpose it as a low cost traffic awareness system for light aircraft, but there's already FLARM, or possibly an ADS-B solution, and I don't think we need more standards for this sort of thing.

    *I think most proper TCAS units cost more than a top of the range DJI drone.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      You beat me to it: it sounds like they've re-invented FLARM, but using wifi rather than the lower frequency unlicensed bands that FLARM uses.

    2. Anonymous Blowhard

      @ SkippyBing

      I think the cost issue will be important for owners; the proposed system looks like it is just a software upgrade for many existing drones, so if some kind of regulation does come in, at least owners will be able to make their current kit compliant without having to pay for the privilege.

      It's also a win for the potential regulators; if existing kit can be made compliant then it will be easier for them to work with the industry (drone operators and drone manufacturers) to get this accepted.

  3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Abuse of Registration

    I don't see any way to stop false registrations being fed into a drone. Even if you work on the idea that only drones used for "official" purposes e.g., policing had proper registered data in them - anything else can be forcibly grounded, there is the problem that retail buyers will find ways to put false registration details in which have been leaked from official lists.

  4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    If be interested to see....

    just how many airborne objects out could handle at once.

    Just imagine taking down an airports radar with a physical DDoS by using hundreds or thousands of drones at once.

    Probably won't happen..... probably

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: If be interested to see....

      The alternative would be for the airports to set up a transmitter on the band(s) and jam the little buggers (i.e.: send out a "kill power" signal) so that any of these fly too close, they get shutdown and crash/land. There would be liability for damage to a/c on the ground etc. but that should hit the owner/flyer of the drone and not the airport.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If be interested to see....

      Just imagine taking down an airports radar with a physical DDoS by using hundreds or thousands of drones at once.

      Given how much these things cost, how much skill is involved and just the sheer amount of work I reckon your average, run-of-the-jihad terrorist will opt for a rocket launcher instead. Granted, it may no more than smudge an MI6 building, but an airport radar dish has more moving parts that can break.

      That said, the airport can probably switch to other radar systems - as far as I know, redundancy isn't an idle word in air traffic management (unlike flight booking systems :) ).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The "Bad" people will use other drones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pointless

      BINGO. Its like guns in the U.S. The law abiding users will obey the law. People who mean to exploit the drone/gun for illicit purposes... not so much.

      When drones that don't transmit the true user are outlawed, only outlaws will have such drones. They will NOT go away.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Pointless

        Yeah, I don't think comparing it to US gun laws is a great example considering all those legally held guns the guy used in Vegas...

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Pointless

          To be fair Las Vegas had a legal (but only if sold separately and it's a grey area at best) modification. As to why the modification was legal is beyond me (I would have thought altering the firing rate or cyclic function would have been banned but what do I know?)

    2. Mike007

      Re: Pointless

      If this were mandated in all drones, then I would argue that people willing to solder wires etc to re-flash with modified firmware or whatever is required are not the "target audience". You can build a drone yourself without this "feature" if you have the time.

      The major problem at the moment is that people can walk in to a shop, buy a drone for £40 and just start flying it. I will admit that when I got a £40 one stuck in a tree, my response was to head back to the shop I got it from and purchase a replacement + a spare "in case it happened again". (I did recover the original, and now have 3 identical ones as I haven't lost one since... but I can see how that thought process could apply to others - don't downvote my honesty!)

      If this functionality were standardised then it would be reasonably easy to establish a strict-liability offence of flying a drone without a compliant beacon containing valid contact details.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clearly the time has come to root your drone and use a non-manufacturer control app.

    Just because software can be used to track and spy on everything everywhere does not make it the right way to run a society.

    Orwell was an optimist.

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