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Technology

Drone Makers Add Geofencing To Keep Drones Out of Restricted Airspace (roboticstrends.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Two of the biggest drone manufacturers, DJI and 3D Robotics, are adding geofencing systems to their products to keep them out of restricted airspace. DJI's Geospatial Environment Online will be available on current versions of the Phantom, Inspire and Matrice drones, providing updated data on restricted flight zones due to regulation or safety concerns, including forest fires, major stadium events, VIP travel and other circumstances. GEO will also include restrictions around areas such as prisons, power plants and more. GEO, by default, will not allow DJI drones to fly in restricted areas. However, DJI is allowing its users to "temporarily unlock or self-authorize" flights in some locations. 3D Robotics will add the safety information software to its Solo smart drone app, containing basic information about federal guidelines (stay five miles from an airport, for example), national parks, airbases and more.
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Drone Makers Add Geofencing To Keep Drones Out of Restricted Airspace

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  • Oh, goody (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @02:32AM (#50953461)

    Last I checked, "restricted airspace" for drones included some hilariously large areas - check out what appears to be the official map [knowbeforeyoufly.org]. Note that includes five miles from airports (why I can't legally fly drones at my own house) and anywhere in a national park.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      I get airports (though the 5 mile radius may be debateable), but national parks... surely that's just commercial interrests?

      • Re:Oh, goody (Score:4, Interesting)

        by fremsley471 ( 792813 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @05:08AM (#50953799)

        Nope, it's for the visitors to the park to enjoy the peace and quiet. I'd be happy to let planes fly over, as soon as the planes carry enough sound-proofing to make them inaudible from the ground.

        Last time we were in Sequoia National Park, we climbed Moro Rock. Apart from our fellow tourists, the only sounds were natural. As we stood on the top, a couple military jet fighters flew west-east at very high altitude (guesstimate FL300) and they were still intrusively audible.

        Imagine if the yahoos in small private planes were allowed to buzz around the parks? "Let's go circle General Sherman. Look, it's that one! Not that one, that one. No, that one. I'll go around again. It's that one. That one. No, that's General Grant, it's that one! I'll go around again..."

      • by gsslay ( 807818 )

        The restrictions are there for pretty much the same reason you can't drive your 4x4 SUV where you like in national parks. Because there would always be idiots making a mess, racket and annoyance to ruin the whole point of it being a national park.

    • Re: Oh, goody (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem is idiots flying their toys around forest fires wanting a good view of the flames. Nevermind that the helicopters trying to extinguish said flames can't maneuver around them.

      Allow people to fly their drones in parks, but program an override that responds to an emergency reaponse vehicle's beacon to make way.

      There's obviously ways that *this* system could also be abused, in theory. I'll let people smarter than I find another solution /happy medium, I guess.

    • Same here. I live on the outer edge of the shadow of Republic airport on Long Island. There is however one thing that should be addressed--airport control zones are shaped like an upside down wedding cake. The closer to the airport you are, the more onerous the HEIGHT restrictions get. The concept of 3d airspace should be addressed by these so called geofences.
    • Last I checked, "restricted airspace" for drones included some hilariously large areas - check out what appears to be the official map [knowbeforeyoufly.org]. Note that includes five miles from airports (why I can't legally fly drones at my own house) and anywhere in a national park.

      RC Aircraft have flown safely and legally for years at designated areas where those type of vehicles are allowed to fly. Somebody sticks a couple more rotors on an RC aircraft and now somehow people think they ought to be able to fly them anywhere they want?

  • 1. Locate GPS antenna.
    2. Stab with pointy object.

    Does mean you'll have to pilot it though, not rely on automatic following of a flight path.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or you could just not be retarded. Just kidding, I know that's not an option.

    • 3. Flight computer no longer receiving location data.
      4. Drone does not take off.

      Even if this is not the current config, it will be once the makers realise this is what people are doing.
    • 1. Locate GPS antenna. 2. Stab with pointy object.

      Does mean you'll have to pilot it though, not rely on automatic following of a flight path.

      I pilot (non-robotic) quadcopters, not drones, and let me tell you that without a fair bit of practice a "drone pilot" will do little more than crash his expensive plastic without the robotic positioning. I don't think that the current models even come with a proper transmitter for really controlling the flight, a good transmitter costs more than the flight hardware. The GPS is used for more than navigation, for instance I believe that some devices don't have accelerometers and use the GPS to hold altitude,

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @07:24AM (#50954095) Homepage Journal

        I pilot (non-robotic) quadcopters, not drones, and let me tell you that without a fair bit of practice a "drone pilot" will do little more than crash his expensive plastic without the robotic positioning. I don't think that the current models even come with a proper transmitter for really controlling the flight, a good transmitter costs more than the flight hardware. The GPS is used for more than navigation, for instance I believe that some devices don't have accelerometers and use the GPS to hold altitude, position, and heading.

        Well, no. The GPS is used for position and speed, if the manufacturer is competent then that's it. You can't get reliable altitude measurements from it, that's where GPS is weakest and most of these tiny antennas are lucky to pull in four sats. A barometer is used for altitude and at least 3DOF sensors are used for flight control. If you want auto-leveling flight, you need 6DOF. You are going to also need a barometer for altitude, though. You can throw in 3 more degrees with a magnetic sensor, which is enough to get absolute orientation. Where the GPS comes in is in position hold, return to home, or waypoint flying. That's the only place the typical drone uses it at all.

        For basic self-leveling flight, the only sensors needed are on a 6DOF sensor board, e.g. MPU6050 or similar. That's one chip. For fully controlled flight with RTH and PH you need 7DOF (6DOF plus magnetic heading), Baro, and GPS. Most fancy-pants drones are going to use 9DOF plus baro and GPS. A 3DOF mag sensor is much better than a basic compass, because it can be used in other orientations than flat.

        I'm not an expert, but I've built two drones recently (one quad, one fixed-wing) and forked Multiwii so as to add sd card logging support to it...

        The "permanent" restrictions, such as those around Washington, DC (not Washington as mentioned in the poor article) and airports will probably require a way to either flash the storage medium via JTAG or decrypt the traffic. I figure the community will take less than a year before it figures out one or the other, based on how quickly other consumer devices are cracked.

        I would be shocked and amazed if they were actually doing anything meaningful to keep users out of the device. Probably the biggest impediment to anyone bothering to hack these drones so far is that it's too easy and cheap to just build your own, or to buy a RTF kit that's made out of parts you could have bought yourself and which has no geofencing. Most of the really cheap drones (e.g. with atmega328-based FCs) don't have the room for geofencing code! And even the ones that do have room don't do it, although I can see it coming in the future. It might even be a fun feature to develop.

        • Yes, the fences will be hacked apart. Yes, you can bypass everything. And yes, you can fly in a red zone. At least, on a Phantom, just fly without the GPS. You shouldn't go far but puttering around your back yard will be fine.

          What these restrictions WILL do is keep the MAJORITY of brain dead idiots (the 15 year olds that get a Phantom for Christmas) from mindlessly flying their new toy anywhere their multitasking-limited brains think is a good spur-of-the-moment idea. If you have enough brains to bypas

          • That's also why I see this as a good thing. It raises the bar of getting to the point of doing something dangerous, but doesn't make anything new illegal or stop the really motivated tinkerers.
        • Thanks for the info. Note that I am _not_ talking about the high-end models, the contrary, I am talking about the cost-cutting Chinese manufacturers, such as Eachines. I don't fly the drones, only the piloted quads.

          Enjoy your drones, especially the quad! I'm now looking at the page about it that you wrote on your blog.
          • Enjoy your drones, especially the quad! I'm now looking at the page about it that you wrote on your blog.

            I'd enjoy them a lot more if I didn't live right next to an airport! I still don't even know where I can reasonably fly. I've only done very low-altitude flights with the quad, and nothing with the fixed-wing yet. Neither model is set up for FPV yet, so there's no temptation to abuse the airspace anyway.

            I wonder how hard it would be to hack the sonar sensor from an "electronic tape measure" to work in my plane. The business end of the circuit appears moderately well-isolated.

            • A couple of years ago I was given a packet of 'Chinese Lanterns.' Basically incendiary devices: Paper balloons heated by a candle so they float.

              The instructions warned not to launch them near woodlands, fields or urban areas. Or near the coast, near airports, near overhead power lines, near military facilities. I'm not sure where you actually could launch them. Not that anyone follows the instructions.

            • I'd enjoy them a lot more if I didn't live right next to an airport! I still don't even know where I can reasonably fly.

              That's the problem that every city dweller with a telescope has! For the telescope (actually 20x80 binoculars in my case) I try to get out of the city once every few weeks, and occasionally I'll take one of the kids. But don't take kids the first few times that you fly the quad. Those props are really dangerous, go google quadcopter injuries. You might even consider bringing a 1 meter by 1 meter cardboard shield along just in case.

  • by viking80 ( 697716 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @03:50AM (#50953647) Journal

    If drones are geofenced to stay 5 miles from airports, all of the bay area is excluded. It is about 30 airports in the area.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • If the state keeps taking responsibility from the people we will end up with no one knowing anymore what responsability is. "It is not forbidden so it's OK".
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Light aircraft and helicopters can continue to offer all the same services they always did without any new digital competition.
  • So when will they produce the ability to "fence" your own property? Range restrictions?
    You know I would kinda hate to be the second (or is it the third) person to shoot one of the drones down.
  • If you fly too close to the White House, your drone will self-destruct after sending the coordinates of the remote to secret service.

  • Just spent over a thousand dollars on a device that doesn't work everywhere. This is no different than the authorities saying that we, as search & rescue personnel, can't drive quads or jeeps or land a helicopter in a designated wilderness area. Oh, excuse me, Mr. On-Scene-TV-Reporter, have I got a story for you.

  • My Inspire has had this for several months now. Why is this just now making it as "news"?
  • They should make that restricted area huge! Cover the whole earth except for a little circle around senator feinstein's house. Make them all fly there!

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