Big Tech and Aviation Companies to Set Standards For New Drone-Tracking System

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The eight vendors will set the technology standards for FAA’s Remote ID program to track drones and their operators.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced the vendors chosen to develop the underlying technology and standards for tracking drones and their pilots as part of a new regulatory regime and marketplace.

In December, the agency issued a proposed rule to establish a system for remotely identifying unmanned aerial vehicles—more colloquially known as drones—called Remote ID. The rule created a framework for tagging drones with unique radio wave identifiers that are broadcast directly from the drone or over a Wi-Fi internet connection, depending on the method. That unique ID could be picked up by air traffic control towers, law enforcement and the general public to ensure a level of safety and accountability.

The rule also established a marketplace of vendors—Remote ID UAS Service Suppliers, or Remote ID USS—to manage the ecosystem by ensuring each drone was assigned a unique ID and that the relevant data is available to those with authority to access it. Before FAA can create that marketplace, the agency needs to know exactly how it should be set up and what standards need to be met by all companies involved.

On Wednesday, FAA announced eight companies that will help the agency set those standards: Airbus, AirMap, Amazon, Intel, One Sky, Skyward (a Verizon company), T-Mobile and Wing (a Google subsidiary). These eight vendors will work together to develop the technology requirements that other companies will use as they build systems to manage the Remote ID system.

“The FAA will be able to advance the safe integration of drones into our nation’s airspace from these technology companies’ knowledge and expertise on remote identification,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

The FAA is still working to finalize the proposed Remote ID rule, at which time the agency will also announce the application requirements for potential service suppliers. Wednesday’s announcement says the agency will also begin accepting applications at that time.

FAA officials did not immediately respond to Nextgov’s questions about whether the eight vendors will be allowed to participate in the Remote ID USS marketplace once it is established.

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