DJI, 3D Robotics to use AirMap Geofencing Technology

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DroneWire  |  November 18, 2015
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Drone industry behemoths DJI and 3D Robotics announced today that both companies will implement new geofencing technology aimed at preventing their unmanned aircraft systems from entering restricted areas, such as airports or prisons.

The enhancements will be provided through AirMap, a California-based provider of real-time airspace information. AirMap maintains a database that tracks the current conditions of the National Air Space (NAS). Data provided by the company includes airport locations, airspace restrictions, and flight advisories.

AirMap delivers this information through an API that allows drone manufacturers to query the company’s database from within their applications. When a drone’s flight position is sent to AirMap, real-time data detailing the characteristics of the surrounding airspace is sent back.

The AirMap platform provides drone operators with a stream of updated information, which can include details on developing events, such as crowds forming at a sports venue, or emergencies that may introduce manned air traffic, like wildfires.

The move by two leading multicopter manufacturers follows a year of high-profile UAV incidents, and increasingly negative media coverage of drone activities. In October, the FAA announced the creation of a task force to advise on the development of a new national drone registration system.

DJI plans for its drone models to receive the AirMap enhancements by December, with operators being restricted from flying into areas with security concerns, like hospitals or stadiums. DJI users will be able to opt out of the more restrictive flight settings by maintaining a “verified” account with the company. Such an account would be free, but may require the registration of a credit card or phone number.

"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," said Brendan Schulman, DJI's Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs.

3DR’s implementation of the AirMap system will be strictly informational, with no physical flight restrictions applied to the aircraft. The company plans to integrate the new functionality into their Solo “Smart” drone, with future updates offering enhanced information, like state and local laws.

"We want to make flying as safe as it is easy. Supplementing the Solo app with AirMap’s robust and reliable real-time airspace information allows us to increase education with a seamless and enjoyable drone experience,” said 3DR CEO and co-founder Chris Anderson.

Founded in December 2014 by Ben Marcus and Greg McNeal, AirMap has emerged as a pivotal player in the business and consumer unmanned aircraft market. In July, the company received a $2.6 million round of seed funding. McNeal serves as President of the Small UAV Coalition, and is a member of the FAA's drone registration task force.

"It's been a pleasure working with the teams at DJI and 3DR over the last several months to bring these capabilities to life," said Marcus.

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