3D Robotics

3689553697?profile=originalAt this week's Drones and Aerial Robotics conference, Joseph Hall gave a presentation that discussed some of the issues around the idea of drones needing a "license plate" (and presumably drone operators needing a "drivers license).

His slides are now available here.  

Also, here's an NBC article on the same topic, also taken from the conference. Excerpt:

One way to assure a minimum level of competence could be pre-use certification, a "driver license" of sorts for pilots who fly the birds. 

Operators of small military drones like Ravens are trained before they can use them, and Capt. Adam Gorrell — who trained drone pilots and flew them himself in the U.S. Air Force, before becoming a professor at the Air Force Academy — sees a similar training system working for domestic operators, too. A different, smaller craft perhaps wouldn't need the same amount of training time, but the "mark in the sand" for flight readiness could shifted accordingly, he said.

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  • Hmm, I wonder if a flying hotdog drone would need a license? Or maybe a pack of 100 hotdog drones swarmed together? Anyway, I hope this talk is applying to strict special case commercial operations only.

  • I personally don't like the idea. I'm 14 years old and budgeted to PVC and twist ties. If they ever gave me a licence, I don't think I could afford the transponder!

  • Is there actually government reqiurements for AMA anywhere? I have had no contact with AMA, and basically had never heard of it except as some nebulous organization focused around especially large R/C. 

    I have a feeling that any kind of licensing would end up being written by people with no idea what they are doing and being ridiculously expensive, rather than the ham radio level thing that it should be. 

  • Chris: as others have said already, it's the certification that racks the price up. A transponder that isn't certified and sealed (and probably audited every year for a nominal fee) is as good as no transponder, because then it would be possible to alter the data coming from it or turn it off. Which is morally OK, but not overly useful in the eyes of FAA or other authorities.

  • Admin

    Hi All,

    Depending on the municipality, many of us already have to have a "license plate" to fly our R/C vehicles. Where I live in Florida, we are restricted as to where we can fly and we have to be AMA members and pay a local yearly "right to fly" fee. If this does not sound like licensing then I do not know what is!:-)


    TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

  • I already label all my rigs with my name and telephone number, in clear 20pt san-serif. I don't need a transponder, thanks.

  • Chris:

    I actually discussed about the topic with a guy from our CAA some time ago and the problem is that any ADS-B transponder must be CAA-certified. The certification includes also a lot of RF-measurements to ensure there is no interference with other components, analysis of protocol integrity, etc.

    Besides that, it doesn't matter if the transponder is actually installed in a manned aircraft because it is installed for the purpose of the RPAS "coexisting" with manned aircraft, i.e. give manned aircraft situational awareness of RPAS buzzing around.

    However, a mere receiver in the GCS which could either deliver data to the GCS software or itself correlate MAVLink telemetry with ADS-B data and show a big red warning light if fullsize traffic comes into the vicinity would be a very practical thing. One of the projects on my list is to integrate the "Mode-S Beast" into my groundstation project at some point.

    The Mode-S Beast is a standalone FPGA-based ADS-B decoder with USBSerial and serial output. The communication protocol is open. I'm not sure about the HW and FW.

  • "doing who knows what with them"

    99% of us are simply trying to keep them in the air and avoid hitting things.  Just flying, no spying.

  • Moderator

    Well I am watching ADS-B right now on a $13 DVB T stick I am sure adding some TX sauce would be straightforward. When you buy a mode S transponder for your aircraft the vendor has to set up your ICAO identifier so that might be a stumbling point unless the units just send UAS as an identifier. The Australian idea of just notifying them of your airframe sub 1.5kg might be the trigger for an ICAO code for your ADS (B) device. ie to be legal tell the authority and get your number probably for a fee. It would make the detect sense and avoid issue start to disappear. Getting PPLs in a cub to comply might be tricky. But if you made a low cost device that worked for them as well perhaps not so much.

    The end user and their qualification has to be thought about because you could close an international airport by switching on a device and driving around especially if you made it send say a false 3000' altitude.  

    More here



  • 3D Robotics

    Martin: I wonder what that transponder would cost/weigh if it were open sourced and not necessarily FAA certified (because it's not in a vehicle carrying people)

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