One of the world’s leading drone manufacturers, DJI, launched a beta version of its geofencing software to the US and Europe. Geofencing intends to address many of the recent incidents involving privately owned drones being flown in inappropriate airspace, by limiting the flight of drones in restricted airspace due to either official regulations or safety issues.
This new feature to be rolled out to DJI drones is named Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) and has two major functions to drone owners. Firstly, it will keep operators informed about areas that may have flight restrictions in place for any reason. It makes use of live information about any areas with temporary restrictions for a number of reasons, from disasters to crowded stadium events. Additionally, it will highlight any locations that are restricted for security purposes, for example, the airspace of prisons and power stations. Secondly, GEO will limit drones from taking off in these restricted zones, so as to deter potential mischief or harm caused by inappropriate use.
Of course, drone users may have legitimate reasons to fly their drone in an area deemed to be potentially restricted. Allowances have been implemented for such circumstances, as operators with verified DJI accounts will be able to unlock the flight restrictions in some areas, however, only if they supply valid credit or debit card information or a mobile telephone number. This will allow any unauthorized or unsafe drone use in these restricted areas to be traced back to its owner. DJI assures that the information supplied by operators will not be collected or stored and unlocking flight restrictions will come at no cost. This feature will not be available in all restricted flight zones, with locations such as Washington DC remaining a no-fly zone even with verification.
Currently, GEO is only in beta, and will require both an update to drone firmware as well as a version of the DJI Go app, available via an APK file for android users or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for the iOS version. For those unwilling to play with beta firmware, a release version from DJI shouldn’t be too far behind. Hopefully, initiatives like GEO combined with legal restrictions on drones and mandatory registration should bring a sharp drop in drone-related incidents. So long as those in charge of the restrictions are not too harsh, legitimate drone operators should not find too much issue with the restrictions either.