A federal panel this week suggested that existing wireless networks could help identify and track commercial drones once they are authorized by regulators.
The report, issued by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee, identified networked cellular —existing networks and devices on licensed spectrum — as one of eight “viable technology solutions” for remote drone tracking.
The group noted that cellular provides secure, two-way communications and that networks already cover nearly the entire U.S. population. In addition, major wireless and chip companies are currently developing technologies to support “UAS C2 communications functions to include telemetry and tracking information.”
“For cellular-capable UAS, objectives associated with ID and tracking for security purposes can be addressed by the systems already under testing and evaluation,” the committee wrote in the report.
The FAA panel, however, noted that cellular coverage might not be available in all areas where drone identification is needed, such as during wildfires or other emergencies in remote locations.
Wireless industry group CTIA praised the report and its recommendations. The group had called for the use of licensed commercial spectrum as opposed to unlicensed spectrum or a dedicated band similar to those used by airlines.
“CTIA believes that reliable, robust and secure wireless networks are the most widely-available and safest platform for drone communications,” Assistant Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Jackie McCarthy said in a statement.
The FAA is expected to unveil proposed rules regarding drone communications next year, and some stakeholders remained divided about which unmanned vehicles should be covered by the forthcoming regulations.
Filed Under: Industry regulations