DJI mobile app will let anyone identify drones in flight

Drones have become more common these days especially in the consumer market. All sorts and sizes of flying robots, controlled by phones or dedicated controllers can be found in any toy store and hobby store. The use of drones extends to business and even military which has naturally raised red flags when it comes to privacy. But while most groups are calling for stricter drone regulations, DJI is offering an alternative that would allow anyone with a smartphone to identify registered drones flying as far as 1 kilometer away.

DJI, perhaps the world's biggest maker of professional and hobby drones, is keenly aware of the privacy violations drones can cause. But rather than lock down the drone market, DJI proposes giving everyone a tool to identify errant drones. In other words, rather than restrict all drone users, it wants to make it easier to identify and punish only the bad ones.

Its solution is almost too simple to be true, taking the form a free mobile app. Its app would allow people to track the registration of drones remotely from a range of 1 km (0.62 mi). And its only technical requirement on the user's side is that they have a phone that supports the Wi-Fi Aware standard.

Such remote drone identification is not new technology but DJI is proposing making it widely available to the public as early as 2020. Identifying drones from a distance has mostly been available only to businesses and the military, leaving regular people to fend for themselves or not at all.

The eagerness in the delivery industry to use drones is being balanced by past incidents that demonstrate how disruptive wayward drones can be. Whether by accident or by intention, such drones have already delayed or canceled flights, trespass into restricted or private areas, and cause panic and fear. Advocacy groups and lawmakers are calling on stricter drone laws which is drone makers like DJI are trying to push for an alternative solution that won't affect their sales.