These drones know when they’re entering restricted flying zones

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With the FAA having finally started implementing comfortable drone regulations, the most-popular drone manufacturer in the world has decided to appease the agency a bit with something called Geospatial Environment Online (GEO). Made by DJI, this new features allows the Chinese company’s drone to automatically detect areas that it knows are restricted flying zones, and alerts the drone pilot. It’s even capable of detecting when an area is only temporarily restricted, but the downside is that using the feature requires the user to have a registered account with DJI that has enough information for the company to identify you and your drone in the event that you enter restricted airspace. 

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 D.C. 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 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 D.C. will remain completely off limits.

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