With the increasing number of drones and drone flyers, industrial growth is also predicted to spike. Air traffic is set to rise significantly in the coming decade. For that matter, UTM systems and drone corridors are starting to come into place but drones still pose as a risk when flying amongst huge crowds of people. UTM systems can track and inform the authorities if a drone is off-route or a threat but that information is not made available to the non-drone flyers. Drones also carry the risk of breaching privacy, therefore it is essential to know if there is a drone flying nearby an individual. To make such a feat possible, the startup AirMap, teamed up with Google Wing and Kittyhawk.io to develop an app which can precisely tell the location of a nearby drone.

Unlike the number plates on cars, the identification plates on a drone are not easy to spot. This makes identifying a drone and its legality a tedious task. This app solves the problem by displaying the map of all the drones flying in that particular airspace, including who they’re being flown by and their purpose. This allows transparency between everyday individuals and anonymous drone pilots and reduces risks greatly.

“AirMap and Alphabet’s Wing built a smartphone application that serves as a public portal to accomplish a specific use case in which a non-operator, such as a concerned citizen, sees a drone in the sky and wants more information about who owns the drone and what it is doing,” Ben Marcus, co-founder, and chairman of AirMap, said. “This is possible today without any additional infrastructure required on the part of the drone manufacturer” he added.

Instructions about the application.

This tool detects any drone within the range of a mile (1.6 Km). In a demonstration carried out last month, AirMap, Wing, and Kittyhawk.io carried out a test flight showing how the technology works. What makes this all possible is an open source and scalable API, known as the InterUSS platform, developed by Google parent company Alphabet. This API connects multiple drone platforms operating in the same area so that they can share information. This way it can easily be integrated into other apps.

“Industry-led network remote identification solutions like the one demonstrated last month prove that there’s an easy, scalable, and cost-effective remote ID solution available today to help regulators improve compliance with aviation rules while protecting the privacy of drone operators and consumers of drone services,” Marcus said.