On Tuesday, drone-maker DJI revealed that it will be offering a new “geofencing” safety system that will, according to DJI, better keep drones out of restricted areas.
By default, beginning in December, DJI brand users will be unable to take-off from or enter into areas such as power plants or prisons. DJI says that the system – powered by a company called Airmap and called Geospatial Environment Online – will be frequently updated with new information on restrictions, which will stop drones going in to zones with changing security needs such as wildfire areas or stadium events.
DJI will allow users to bypass the system if they want, but only on one condition: they must have a verified account with the company, including a debit card, credit card or phone number, even though the system will be free. DJI states that users will not permit the system to be switched off in particular areas with national security concerns, such as Washington D.C.
3DR, another drone company, revealed a similar system earlier on Tuesday, meaning that a huge slice of the consumer drone market now includes such safety features. (DJI has had a less strict, but different system in place since 2013).
The alterations come amongst increasing scrutiny from the FAA over how to correctly regulate and register drone usage. In its announcement, DJI did not ignore the idea that this would be a method of bringing more accountability to drone operation, or at least better equip operators of drones with information they require. DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs, Brendan Schulman said in a statement that they believe this key upgrade to their geofencing system will do more to help users understand their local flight environment, and to make educated, smart decisions about where and when to fly their drones.