Most Drones Will Be Required to Broadcast Their Locations By 2023

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Photo: Bruce Bennett / Staff (Getty Images)

The Federal Aviation Administration announced a new set of drone regulations on Monday that will, among other things, mandate that every drone sold in the U.S. weighing more than .55 pounds come with a mechanism to broadcast its location to local authorities by 2022— a digital license plate, of sorts.

The FAA’s Remote ID sales requirement will go into effect 60 days after they are entered into the federal registrar in January, at which point the companies manufacturing drones with have 18 months to outfit newer models equipped with Remote ID technology. Any drones without the necessary identification tech will become illegal to fly by 2023, unless they are preemptively retrofitted with the necessary tech in order to ensure compliance.

Among the other newly announced regulations is a clearance for licensed drone operators to fly unmanned aerial vehicles at night — a huge boon to companies like Amazon and Alphabet’s Wing subsidiary, who have long sought permission to perform deliveries by drone in the U.S. According to Reuters, the U.S. government has over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots to date — a number that will undoubtedly continue to climb as the popularity of online shopping and the prevalence of remote work keep demand for remote deliveries high.


The FAA says that the new tracking rule is “a major step toward the full integration of drones into the national airspace system,” as the technology will provide “crucial information to our national security agencies and law enforcement partners, and other officials charged with ensuring public safety.”

For drone operators hoping to fly unmanned vehicles at night, the rules get more complicated: Drones hoping to fly in the dark must now be equipped with anti-collision lights, and pilots manning the vehicles will be tested and required to complete “recurrent training, as applicable, to ensure familiarity with the risks and appropriate mitigations for nighttime operations.”