On Thursday, drone manufacturer DJI launched a beta version of its new "geofencing" system, something the company says will keep its drones from flying into restricted airspace. The new feature is called Geospatial Environment Online (GEO), and it will let users know about areas where drone flight is restricted, either due to regulations or because of safety issues. It's DJI's way of appeasing the FAA, which has called for more regulation of drone flight this past year.
GEO will stop DJI drones from taking off in restricted areas like airports and Washington, DC. The system will also let users know about airspace that has been temporarily restricted, such as places near forest fires or big stadium events. Sensitive areas around prisons and power plants will be off limits in the system as well.
DJI owners can temporarily opt out of the system
DJI owners can temporarily opt out of GEO and unlock some of the flight restrictions, but there's a catch. They must have verified accounts with the company, with a credit card, debit card, or cellphone number on file. That way, if a drone is found in unauthorized airspace, it can be traced back to its owner. Users can't turn off all the flight restrictions though; places like Washington, DC will remain completely off limits.
DJI's system is meant to put a stop to drones from showing up in places they shouldn't be, such as near commercial airlines or the White House lawn. The FAA is also cracking down on this by requiring all users with drones under 55 pounds to register their units by February 19th, 2016. Those who are caught flying drones without registration will face fines up to $27,500.