Today, drone-maker DJI announced that it will begin offering a new "geofencing" safety system that the company says will better keep drones out of restricted areas.
Users will be able to override the system by registering with DJI
By default, starting in December, users of DJI-brand drones will not be able to enter into, or take off from, areas like prisons or power plants. The company says the system — called Geospatial Environment Online, and powered by a company called AirMap — will also be constantly updated with new information on restrictions, which will prevent drones from entering zones with shifting security needs, like stadium events or wildfire areas.
DJI will be letting people bypass the system if they so choose, but only on one condition: users must have a verified account with the company, including a credit card, debit card, or phone number, although the system will be free. The company says users will not allow the system to be turned off in certain areas with national security concerns, such as Washington, DC.
Drone company 3DR unveiled a similar system earlier today, meaning a major slice of the consumer drone market now includes such safety features. (DJI has had a different, less strict system in place since 2013.)
The changes come amid growing scrutiny from the FAA over how to properly regulate and register the use of drones. DJI, in its announcement, didn't shy away from the idea that this would be a way of bringing more accountability to drone operation, or at least better equip drone operators with information they need. "We believe this major upgrade to our geofencing system will do even more to help operators understand their local flight environment, and to make smart, educated decisions about when and where to fly their drones," DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs Brendan Schulman said in a statement.