DJI’s ‘electronic license plate’ helps authorities identify drones in mid-flight

Brian Heater
DJI took to the roofs of Washington DC to demonstrate AeroScope, a new identification technology the company has taken to calling an “electronic license plate for drones.”

DJI took to the roofs of Washington DC to demonstrate AeroScope, a new identification technology the company has taken to calling an “electronic license plate for drones.” The feature is designed to offer up quick information to authorities on a given UAV, should it, say, come to lose to an airport, prison or other restricted airspace.

The D.C. location was no doubt chosen to highlight the leading drone company’s efforts to help the FAA and other government bodies as they increase regulation around the booming industry. Ironically, local regulations prohibited the company from actually flying the drones around, so the technology was demoed with stationary products. 

AeroScope works by pulling information from existing radio transmissions between the drone and its remote control — as such, it should work with the DJI’s existing products, which already make a up a huge chunk of the market. Using this data, an AeroScope receiver within range is able to pull in a number of key data points, including identifiers like registration and serial number.

There’s a bunch of potentially useful additional information like the location of the person operating the drone, where it took off from, what direction it’s heading in and its speed and altitude.

“AeroScope is designed to meet authorities’ legitimate needs concerning safety, security and privacy while also respecting the rights of people and businesses who use drones,” t the company’s VP of Policy and Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman said in a statement tied to the demo “DJI’s solution provides the information authorities need, while ensuring that flight data is only collected on the small number of drone flights that could raise concerns.”

All of this is still relatively early days, but the company no doubt wanted to further ensure authorities that it’s doing what it can to stop on top of regulation. DJI also announced its new Knowledge Quiz initiative, a series of operation questions intended to ensure that pilots are aware of key points before flying.