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Direct Remote Identification (DRI)

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One of the most important novelties of the European regulation on drones is that almost all aircraft flying in the Open Category (classes C1, C2, and C3) or under declaration of the Specific Category (classes C5 and C6) must have installed a Remote Identification System (DRI) that allows the operator’s number to be known. This system is called “Direct Remote Identification” (DRI).

But why should a remote identification system be carried?

Just like with land vehicles, drones must have a registration number with the operator’s number that identifies who is flying it, and it must be available at all times to both authorities and the general public. However, having a registration number is not enough to identify them, because of their small size, height, and distance at which they can be found. Therefore, the drone must allow direct digital access in the simplest way possible, such as through the use of a smartphone.

The basics of the DRI system

As you may know, in order to fly drones in the Open or Specific Category, it is necessary to register as a UAS operator. After registering, the user will receive an Operator Registration Number, which in turn must be configured within the aircraft’s DRI.

Therefore, the DRI will allow observers who are relatively close to the aircraft to obtain information about the UAS Operator Number without the need to be physically with the drone, using a smartphone with an application available in app stores.

Just like with land vehicles, the general public will only be able to view the operator number, while security forces, if required, will be able to access registration data and know which person or company is behind the flight.

What mobile phone is compatible with the DRI?

The communication technology used for the DRI is quite common and accessible to most mobile devices. However, devices with an Android-based operating system are more capable, as they allow for different connectivity possibilities.

The standards that the DRI system can use to communicate are:

Bluetooth Legacy Advertising

Unlike the normal Bluetooth protocol, this is a low-energy Bluetooth protocol that remains in sleep most of the time. It is only activated to make announcements and short connections.

Bluetooth 5 Long Range

It is a new Bluetooth protocol that extends connections from 10–30 meters to 1 kilometre or more.


This is a new WiFi-based protocol that allows for device-to-device connections without the need for intermediaries such as an access point.

Wi-Fi Beacon

These are very short transmissions generated by Wi-Fi access points that inform all nearby devices that there are connections available.

Currently, mobile devices with the Android operating system are the only ones that can equip all the aforementioned wireless technologies, while devices with an iOS-based operating system are more limited.

What information can be available with the DRI?

The information that the DRI system sends publicly is:

  • UAS Operator Number
  • Aircraft serial number
  • Aircraft position along with height above ground or takeoff point
  • Ground speed and headingPilot’s position or, if not available, the takeoff position of the aircraft
  • Emergency status of the aircraft (in some cases)

What types of DRI systems are there?

Currently, drones can have two types of DRI systems:

  • DRI integrated into the aircraft
  • DRI as an external device to the aircraft (Add-On)

In both cases, they must be configured with operator information, and in the case of the Add-On, the aircraft’s serial number, the category it can fly in, and the assigned class must be entered.

Implementation of the DRI system in drones

The implementation of the DRI system can be done in two different ways:

Firmware update of the aircraft
Many of the aircraft being marketed today already have the DRI system, although it is likely that a firmware update of the aircraft will be necessary to make it functional.

Installation of an add-on

In those aircraft that do not have the necessary technology, it will be necessary to install the DRI in the form of an add-on supplied by third parties.

It is important to remember that both the DRI integrated into the aircraft and the DRI in the form of an add-on must comply with regulations and be certified no later than the beginning of 2024.

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