On December 28th, 2020 the FAA kept its promise to release the ruling on remote ID in 2020 with three days to spare. The hotly debated ruling, which attracted over 50,000 comments this past year, has been anxiously awaited by many in the commercial drone industry. Remote ID is considered to be a foundational ruling that will enable advanced operations and integration into the national airspace at scale.
As many have already noted, one of the biggest changes with the final ruling compared to the NPRM that came out in December of 2019 was the replacement of networked transmission with broadcast. This was due in large part to the number of concerns raised by the drone community itself about the affordability, accessibility, security, and privacy of requiring a networked solution. This decision generated mixed reviews from the drone community.
The rule garnered positive responses from organizations from DJI and the hobbyist community, who expressed reservations about networked remote ID during the commenting period, as well as AUVSI and Airports Council International, North America (ACI-NA). Notable proponents of networked solutions, such as Wing, raised pointed concerns about the decision stating that there would be “unintended consequences” to the decision. Although Kittyhawk also pointed toward the potential problematic aspects of broadcast remote ID in comparison to Networked, they also saw this as an opportunity for innovation.
“In its final rule, the FAA states ‘The final rule establishes minimum performance requirements describing the desired outcomes, goals, and results for remote identification without establishing a specific means or process,’” pointed out Jon Hegranes, Founder & CEO of Kittyhawk, in a recent press release. “They later state that anyone can create a means of compliance. So, what some may see as a stringent set of rules, we see as a license to innovate and create advantages for our enterprise customers and recreational pilots alike.”
Breaking Remote ID Down
A lot of ground has already been covered concerning the particulars of FAA’s release of the Remote ID rule, operations over people, and night flights. If you are looking for a breakdown of the ruling, Dawn Zoldi, CEO and Founder of P3 Tech Consulting, provided an incredibly detailed overview of what the Remote ID rule and operations over people entail in Inside Unmanned Systems and pointed toward some challenges that the ruling presents, such as not specifying the spectrum of transmission for Remote ID. Mark E. McKinnon, partner at Fox Rothchild LLP., and Holland & Knight LLP. also provided in-depth analyses of the nuts and bolts of the ruling that are worth checking out, and DRONERESPONDERS provided a helpful Q&A for emergency responders and law enforcement.
After we digest the particulars of the rulings and what is and isn’t laid out within the 500 or so pages of the document, the next challenge for the industry, and manufacturers in particular, will be to come up with prototypes that meet the FAA’s non-prescriptive, performance-based criteria—an often frustratingly vague hurdle that the industry is already intimately familiar with negotiating.