I am researching the feasibility of adding an RFID tag to an unmanned aerial vehicle and then tracking it. Is there an RFID reader capable of reading tags from a distance of more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet)?
Active RFID tags have a battery and can broadcast a signal, so they have a longer read range than passive tags, which obtain energy from a reader. Iotera has developed a long-range tag that can go up to 4 miles (see Iotera Develops Active RFID Tag With 4-Mile Read Range). That’s about the longest I know of. Most are in the 100-meter (328-foot) range. Identec Solutions offers a tag with a 500-meter (1,640-foot) read range. You could contact them and ask if there is a way to extend that range.
There are many passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader modules on the market that could be installed on an unmanned aerial vehicle. You would need to power such a device with a battery, though, and the read range would depend on the power output. If you opted to emit more energy, the battery would drain faster. But a read range of 15 to 20 feet should not be a problem.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal