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DJI Proposed App to Identify Nearby Drones and Exact Location of Pilots


The world's leading producer of camera drones, DJI has demonstrated a technique to gather information about a nearby drone, precisely locating its pilot through a smartphone.

It employs a protocol called "Wi-Fi Aware", which makes the information about nearby drones available to anyone looking up for flying drones. The company said it would increase " safety, security, and peace of mind", along with preventing disruptions and security threats. However, the idea is being dismissed by security experts as they are of the opinion that it is not sufficient to fight illegal drone use and that the sophisticated hackers would easily manage to bypass the detection. With ransomware emerging as a service and being easily available, it's reasonable to expect hackers finding ways to circumvent the DJI's protocol. As a result, concerns have been raised regarding the viability of this "drone-to-phone remote identification" tool.

While substantiating the proposed idea, Brendan Schulman, VP of policy and legal affairs at DJI, said, "Remote ID functions as an electronic license plate for drones, allowing anyone who is curious about a drone in the sky to learn more about what it's doing."

"Around the world, aviation authorities have said remote ID is the key to allowing more complex drone use, and to solving concerns about safety and security." He added. "It's going to be very useful against rogue drones," said Elrike Franke, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, in a conversation with the BBC.

"But it's not going to be enough to fight people with real bad intentions, because these are going to be the first people to hack this system."

Further explaining the model, the company said, "Using a simple app, anyone within radio range of the drone can receive that signal and learn the location, altitude, speed, and direction of the drone, as well as an identification number for the drone and the location of the pilot."

However, the proposed app is not expected to be seen anytime soon due to the lack of Wi-Fi protocol compatibility with advanced smartphones. Currently, it also does not work on iPhones.

Zomato successfully tests its drone technology

E-commerce companies and food-delivery platforms are globally believed to be among the first adopters of drone-based delivery.

Zomato, the online ordering and food delivery platform, on Wednesday announced that it has successfully tested its drone delivery technology. The test, which was conducted using a hybrid drone, was a part of the company's attempts to reduce the time taken to make a food delivery to its customers.

The first test saw Zomato make a drone-based food package delivery under restricted conditions, covering 5 km in 10 minutes and at peak speed of 80 kmph.

"The drone was tested last week at one of the remote sites approved by the DGCA. Such tests are done at very remote sites which are especially designed to conduct such tests," Zomato told IANS.

It comes months after Gurgaon-headquartered firm had acquired Lucknow-based drone startup TechEagle to reduce food delivery times and solve other issues like pollution and traffic. Zomato also revealed that it is forming a consortium as per Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) guidelines to carry out experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

However, the food aggregator did not reveal the exact location where the drone delivered the package.

According to the notification issued by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on May 13, interested companies have been asked to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the DGCA for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations (BVLOS) of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)/Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Currently, while regulations prohibit payload carriage on drones along with disallowing drone operations outside visual line of sight, the government — while announcing rules for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in August last — had said that the norms will be evolved with time as and when companies are able to exhibit newer technologies.

"The only possible way to reduce the average 30 minutes to 15 minutes is to take the aerial route. Roads are not efficient for very fast deliveries.