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Flightradar24 wants to make it easy to track drones around the world

Leading flight tracking service Flightradar24 wants to do for drones what it has done for aircraft — provide people with a way to keep tabs on their flights around the globe. Fredrik Lindahl, the company’s CEO, tells Digital Trends that he wants his company to help “track all aircraft around the world, regardless if they are manned or not.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 18.13.55To achieve this goal, Flightradar24 has teamed up with drone safety solution company Skysense — funding the latter company to develop a hardware device that makes drones visible using the same ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) tech currently adopted by civilian aircraft.

Related: FAA’s new regulations will require operators to go to drone school

ADS-B broadcasts information including an aircraft’s location, speed and altitude, along with additional identifying data such as call signs. By 2020, it is will be mandatory for all aircraft flying in United States airspace to be equipped with ADS-B. Europe, meanwhile, will make this a legal obligation from 2017.

The ADS-B Out device created by Skysense is called BCON, and is currently the lightest and smallest such device available on the market.

“To make drones visible and be able to track them is an important enabler for making drones part of the new disruptive transportation infrastructure and [to] safely co-exist with traditional civilian air carriers,” says Henrik Vilselius, chairman and co-founder of Skysense — adding that his company is “delighted to have started this journey together with Flightradar24.”

Fredrik Lindahl says that he hopes Flightradar24’s investment in Skysense will speed up the adoption of ADS-B transponders among drone manufacturers around the globe. Last week the company even did its first test with space-based ADS-B coverage.

While Lindahl won’t currently reveal the exact date it plans to launch its drone-tracking service, it’s certainly safe to say that all the right steps are being taken. In other words, aircraft-tracking aviation geeks have a whole lot more on the horizon to get excited about.