DJI Improves Drone Geofencing

 - October 24, 2018, 2:11 PM

Facing tighter FAA regulation on recreational drone use, the world’s leading manufacturer of the vehicles, China’s DJI, today announced improved geofencing technology to refine airspace limitations for drone flights near airports. DJI’s updated Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) Version 2.0 will be phased in starting next month when the revised zones will take effect for airspace around airports in the U.S. Upgrades in other parts of the world will follow, the company said.

DJI has selected PrecisionHawk to provide the data for the system, replacing the company’s previous geospatial data provider. DJI collaborated with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the American Association of Airport Executives in developing GEO 2.0. 

According to DJI, the new system creates three-dimensional “bow tie” safety zones surrounding runway flight paths and uses “complex polygon shapes around other sensitive facilities, rather than just simple circles.” The new restrictions better reflect the actual safety risk, while enabling more flights to the side of runways where the company says the risk is lower. 

DJI said its new geofencing incorporates the principles laid out in Section 384 of the new Federal FAA Reauthorization Act designating the final approach corridor to active runways at major airports to be "runway exclusion zones" for unauthorized drones and encouraged customers to update their DJI GO 4 flight control app and aircraft firmware to ensure these updates are implemented.

Its geofencing uses GPS and other navigational satellite signals to automatically help prevent drones from flying near sensitive locations such as airports and nuclear power plants. In certain instances,  a DJI drone cannot take off or fly in a geofenced area without special authorization. 

GEO previously geofenced a five-mile circle around airports, with enhanced restrictions in a smaller circle around an airport. GEO 2.0 applies the strongest restrictions to a three-quarter-mile-wide rectangle around each runway and the flight paths at either end, where airplanes actually ascend and descend. Less strict restrictions apply to an oval area within 3.7 miles of each runway. This bow-tie shape opens more areas on the sides of runways to beneficial drone uses, as well as low-altitude areas 1.9 miles from the end of a runway, while increasing protection in the locations where traditional aircraft actually fly.

“DJI is proud to once again lead the industry in developing proactive solutions for safety and security concerns,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI vice president of policy and legal affairs. “This is an enormous step forward for safely integrating drones into the airspace based on a more finely-tuned evaluation of risks associated with aircraft approaching and departing different types of airports.”