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Your Drone May Soon Need a License Plate | News & Opinion

The FAA intends to require all drones to have an always-visible government-assigned ID.


Drone in Flight CC0 Licensed

Ever since affordable drones came to market, regulators have been scratching their heads figuring out how to deal with them. They are small, easy to carry around and deploy anywhere, and just as quick to disappear when something goes wrong.

Because of that, the latest proposed regulation tweak—drone license plates—is intended to make sure every drone can be easily identified. As Bloomberg reports, the FAA already requires drones to be registered and have a government-assigned ID number on the drone. However, that ID can be hidden from view, for example, inside the battery compartment.

A filing made last month details an update to the rules that would require the ID be positioned on an external surface of the drone.

“We need assurances that any drone, any unmanned aircraft, operating in controlled airspace is identifiable and trackable,” FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell stated earlier this month.

This rule change would certainly allow for that as long as equipment is available to easily detect and read the ID number on these tiny aircraft. In order for it to work, though, the ID would surely have to be printed quite large and in a bright color so as to stand out.

Unique IDs are something the public is used to seeing every day. Commercial aircraft already carry them and every vehicle has a license plate as standard. So why should drones be any different? Beyond making them less attractive to look at due to a big, bright ID printed on the side, it was kind of obvious this would happen eventually.


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