No drone pilot is immune from losing his drone. This can happen due to software glitch, GPS signal failure, or your own mistake. This also includes a discharged battery and a violation of calibration. What if you find yourself in position where you find a lost drone that has a FAA registration number? Can you locate the owner with that number? In this article we will describe all the possible methods and how you can find the owner of a lost drone. Let’s start!
How to Find the Owner of a Lost Drone?
So How to Find the Owner of a Lost Drone? The best methods you can use to find the owner of a lost drone is to check the drone’s camera and look at the footage to see where the drone had its take-off point, by contacting the police or the drone’s manufacturer, or by using social networks and posting a picture of that drone.
So if you decide to track down the pilot, I have to tell you it won’t exactly be an easy mission. But with good tactics and methods, you can find the owner and return the drone. One of the most common ways is to use the drone registration number through the FAA’s website and you’ll get the pilot’s name. It’s an easy search to do. The FAA have a large database of drone pilots that have registrated their drone.
The FAA’s contact info is:
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone: FAA support at (877) 396-4636 or international (703) 574-6777
I found myself once in a situation where I found a drone in my backyard and I used this method. However, not all drones are reported and registered by the FAA. In case you find yourself in a situation where this doesn’t help, there are other ways you can track the owner.
4 Ways to Find the Owner of a Lost Drone
- Look the Drone’s Camera: Check the footage that drone has recorded to see if you can find the takeoff point (perhaps the owner’s home).
- Contact the Police: Police can easily find the drone owner if the drone is registrated by the FAA.
- Contact the Drone’s Manufacturer: In most cases, they might have information on the drone’s serial number, and they can easily locate and contact the owner.
- Using Social Networks: Today we have Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and other platforms where you can easily publish that you have founded a drone, and the owner of that lost drone can come and pick it up.
What If You Find a Drone in Your Own Yard? Trace the Owner
The first thing you need to do if you find a lost drone in your own yard is to check and see what model is that drone. If the drone is cheap, and under $100, then the owner probably won’t even look for it and you’ll have a hard time to find the real owner. These drones are not equipped with GPS technology, so the owner can’t locate it.
If the drone is over $300, then you can start to look online to see if there are some posts on Facebook, Reddit or Instagram that are indicating that someone has lost a drone.
The third option is to take the drone to the police and let them handle the matter. In most cases, if the drone is expensive, the owner will come and look for it. So you will fence yourself in and do the right thing. When you are dealing with an expensive drone, you’ll probably have the telephone or some mark on the drone. If the drone is not legally purchased, the owner will not look for it.
An App That Can Identify Drones and Locate Their Owner
Drone maker DJI has developed a smartphone app that can quickly identifie a nearby flying drone. With this app, anyone within radio range of the drone can pick up a signal allowing them to determine the location, altitude, speed and direction of the drone, as well as its identification number and the location of the person who order him.
This feature promises to be very useful in the fight against unwanted drones. A regulation, currently being drawn up, will eventually force all drone manufacturers to adopt a system for the remote identification of their devices. Some experts are skeptical. They believe the app could be useful against irresponsible drone pilots. In contrast, highly organized offenders with genuinely bad intentions will quickly be able to hack it, they say.
What You Need to Know About Lost Drones
Today, most drones are equipped with a GPS module, which is used to record information about the place of departure, flight trajectory, as well as complete control over the flight. It will take a significant amount of time to find a lost drone when the search motors of the modules fail.
Before launching the drone, check and, if necessary, calibrate the compass. It is also worth writing down the takeoff coordinates to increase the likelihood of quickly finding the drone in case of loss. The general procedure takes several minutes, but the security guarantee increases significantly.
Another important factor for a stable flight is a 100% battery level. But returning the device to the ground is best with the remaining 30 percent. Then you will have enough time to find a new landing site or deal with another problem that has arisen.
Well, an additional advice before the flight can be to check the Return To Home mode. Violations in its operation can be associated with a temporary loss of GPS signal. It is better to double-check that the point is set correctly than then try to understand why the drone flew in an unknown direction. You should also establish points for returning “home” in open areas.
Best Search Methods To Find Your Lost Drone
When you first notice that the drone has disappeared from sight, it is important to immediately start looking for it. Try to find the drone with the remote. If the aircraft is somewhere nearby, it can react to commands. It is also recommended to take screenshots of the surrounding area at different times of the flight. Here are the best search methods you can use to find your lost drone:
1. Search by GPS
All DJI drones have a GPS tracker setup function. Thanks to its use, you can launch the quadcopter and not worry about it being lost. You shouldn’t skimp on purchasing a tracker. Usually, budget options are not particularly useful and are characterized by high data transmission errors.
To install the tracker, you need glue, an active SIM card to fit in the module slot and just a couple of minutes of free time. To find a quadrocopter, if it is lost, you can get it by calling the SIM card number from any phone. After the call, the exact coordinates of the quadcopter will be sent to the phone by SMS.
2. Beacon Installation
Instead of the GPS tracker, you can also install a radio beacon. It allows you to quickly find a quadcopter at a distance of up to two kilometers. For normal flights, this is sufficient, since the range of the control equipment is no more than 1.5 kilometers.
3. Using the App LostMyDrone
The LostMyDrone application offers to put in contact the owner of the drone, who will have registered, and the one who would have found it. A global map of lost drones offers a panoramic, but not exhaustive, view of devices that have left their owners in the wrong company. This application is mainly active in the United States.
4. Video Camera Signal
If the drone did not turn off when it fell, then a video transmitter can serve as a beacon. FPV glasses can act as a receiver. You can easily locate the drone with the video signal of the camera. Drone racers use this feature to find their small drones during the race.
How to Ensure Your Drone Never Gets Lost?
- Attach the sticker on your drone with your phone number and address. You can also writte your drone’s registration number.
- Ugradite a GPS tracker on your drone. Trackimo’s 3G GPS is very small and can be attached anywhere on your drone. Once you activate that tracker, your smartphone app will tell you exactly where your drone is.
As we could see, there are plenty of ways we can locate the drone owner if we find a lost drone. The drone registration numbers are only helpfull if you’re the FAA, cause you can track down the person who is the owner of that crashed drone. For normal persons this number isn’t super helpful in locating lost drones. Drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds need registration number, and are legally required to be marked on these drones. That said, it may not be unnecessary, either, to put your phone number or email address on the drone. I hope you will not have this problem in the future.