A patent for Remote ID systems has been granted to Kenji Sugahara: Drone Advisory Committee member, CEO/President of the Drone Service Providers Alliance, and CEO of Oregon-based Ariascend drone research and development company.
By DRONELIFE Staff Writer Jim Magill
With the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent release of the final rule on Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft, the race is on to become an industry leader in the development of remote identification (RID) technology
One of the first movers in this race is Ariascend, an Oregon-based drone research and development company, which this week announced that its CEO, Kenji Sugahara, had recently been awarded a patent for broadcast remote identification of drones.
U.S. Patent 10,825,345 issued by the United States Patent Office in November, calls for drones to have a “digital license plate,” that can broadcast information about the drone to observers on the ground, including law enforcement agencies and members of the general public.
In an interview, Sugahara said the genesis of the patent sprung from a white paper he wrote in 2017 and submitted to the FAA’s Advisory and Rulemaking Committee. Many of the ideas outlined in both the white paper and the patent itself were incorporated into the FAA final rule. In fact, Sugahara said he was surprised with how closely his patented idea, one among many remote ID patents that various companies have applied for, tracks the final rule.
When he first applied for a provisional patent based on the white paper, “I had no idea what remote ID would end up looking like,” he said. “When the rule came out, I was like, wait a second. This is kind of crazy.”
Sugahara’s system includes “an electronic beacon system mounted to an unmanned aerial system broadcasting identification and sensor data including a UAS identification code, global positioning system data and other telemetry information,” according to the patent.
“There’re authorized and unauthorized handheld mobile devices,” he said. “The authorized folks (such as law enforcement agencies) would be able to look up the personally identifiable information through a database, while unauthorized people, like the general public, will just be able to get the location on the digital license plate of the drone.”
As is the case with Sugahara’s proposed RID system, the FAA’s final rule does not require drone operators to broadcast their identifying information over a network connection, a provision that had been included in the initial notice of proposed rulemaking but later removed. Sugahara’s proposal calls for the use of Bluetooth or WIFI signals to broadcast the identifying data.
“Bluetooth is an interesting way to approach it because it’s short range and it’s almost custom-made to do remote ID,” he said. “It also helps preserve pilot privacy because it’s not like a network where It’s connected all the time.”
In addition to being a patent-holding inventor and CEO of Ariascend, Sugahara is something of a Renaissance man. “I’m a full-time drone pilot and I have my own media company with two other guys, A-Cam Aerials,” he said. He also serves as head of Drone Service Providers Alliance, is a licensed attorney working on drone-related policy issues, and serves on the board of the Oregon Tourism Commission.
As to whether he plans to commercialize his patented idea by developing a commercial RID product, Sugahara said he hasn’t yet decided what he’s going to do. “I hadn’t put much thought into it. “After I sent out the press release, a number of companies have been in touch to ask about licensing the patent,” he said.
While he is considering the various offers, “the fundamental thing from my perspective is that whatever is done with the patent, it can’t be used to stifle competition,” he said. “The idea is you want a robust industry built around remote ID that makes it cheap and accessible. The more operators out there and the more drones out there, the better for all of us.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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