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DJI Introduces New Geofencing System For Its Drones
4334 26 2015-11-18
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DJI-Delphine
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DJI announced a new geofencing system featuring continually updated airspace information.

Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) will provide DJI drone users with up-to-date guidance on locations where flight may be restricted by regulation or raise safety concerns. For the first time, drone operators will have, at the time of flight, access to live information on temporary flight restrictions due to forest fires, major stadium events, VIP travel, and other changing circumstances. The GEO system will also include for the first time restrictions around locations such as prisons, power plants and other sensitive areas where drone operations raise non-aviation security concerns.

The drone will by default not fly into or take off in, locations that raise safety or security concerns.  However, in order to accommodate the vast variety of authorized applications, the new system will also allow users who have verified DJI accounts to temporarily unlock or self-authorize flights in some of those locations. The unlock function will not be available for sensitive national-security locations such as Washington, D.C. or other prohibited areas.

Unlocking will require a DJI user account verified with a credit card, debit card or mobile phone number. DJI will neither collect nor store this information, and the service will be free.  The verified account, required only if and when a user chooses to fly in a location that might raise an aviation safety or security concern, provides a measure of accountability in the event that the flight is later investigated by authorities.

“DJI invented geofencing over two years ago and now continues its industry leadership by balancing enhanced safety with the flexibility of accountable self-authorization,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs who led the development of the new system. “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.”

“Our years of actual user experience have shown that in most instances, strict geofencing is the wrong approach for this technology, and instead we are helping operators make informed, accountable decisions,” Schulman added.

This new system will launch first in North America and Europe. Other regions will receive an update to airport data, but will continue to use the existing “No Fly Zone” geofencing system the company pioneered in 2013 until the new system is launched in each region.

GEO is powered by geospatial data from Santa Monica, California-based AirMap.

The new mapping system will become available in December via an update of the DJI Go app and drone firmware.  


Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is the GEO Information System?

The GEO system is a best-in-class geospatial information system that provides drone operators with information that will help them make smart decisions about where and when to fly. It combines up-to-date airspace information, a warning and flight-restriction system, a mechanism for unlocking (self-authorizing) drone flights in locations where flight is permitted under certain conditions, and a minimally-invasive accountability system for those decisions. This is an implementation of what is commonly referred to as “geofencing” and replaces our first-generation “No Fly Zone” geofencing system that DJI invented and implemented in its drones in 2013.

Q: With what drones will DJI GEO work?

For now, since the system will be available through an upgrade of our DJI Go app and drone firmware, the new geofencing system will work with our Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 drones and, we expect, our future generations of drones.

Q: How will live updates work?

The latest information on temporary flight restrictions in the location of a planned flight will be sent to DJI drone operators via the DJI GO app.  

Q:  How will DJI designate different locations?

Some areas will be designated as Warning locations to make operators aware of potential concerns that are not primarily safety-related (for example, a protected wildlife area). Other areas, such as those surrounding airports, will be Authorization zones, where the drone can’t be flown without taking additional steps to “unlock” the zone using a verified account. The remaining category will be Restricted zones where the drone will not operate and no unlocking is possible for security reasons, such as Washington, D.C.

Q:  What types of locations will be included?

Our primary focus is on aviation safety and national security. DJI will include airports, prohibited and restricted airspace, national security sites, prisons, and power plants, among other locations.  Additionally, when a user is connected to the internet, GEO will provide live guidance on temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) to inform users and help prevent inadvertent flight, including TFRs relating to forest fires, major league sporting events, and other changing conditions.

Q:  So DJI will tell me what the aviation regulations are?

No. The GEO system is advisory only. Each operator is responsible for checking official sources and determining what laws or regulations might apply to his or her flight.  In some instances, DJI has selected widely-recommended general parameters (such as a five-mile radius at airports) without making any determination of whether this guidance matches regulations that may apply specifically to you. Also, to the extent understanding the applicable regulations involves interpreting statutory or regulatory language, operators must make their own interpretation, or seek guidance from regulators or an attorney. We expect to continue to work collaboratively with aviation authorities around the world to determine what kind of guidance to drone operators would be most effective at promoting safe and responsible flying.

Q:  I am authorized to fly closer than five miles from an airport.  How will this work?

In Authorization zones such as the one you mention, an operator simply needs a verified DJI account and uses the DJI GO application to unlock the area. Making sure that you are authorized is your responsibility.

Q:  How do I verify my DJI account?

By providing a credit card, debit card, or mobile phone number. DJI will not collect or store this information.  We may add other verification methods in the future.

Q:  I’m a commercial operator.  Does this apply to me?

The GEO system will provide the same information to every operator. We understand that regulations may vary depending on whether your operation is commercial, recreational, educational, humanitarian, or governmental. DJI drones are, by far, the most popular brand in all categories, which is why our system will allow for flexible unlocking based on operator judgment. Also, a drone used on Sunday for recreation might be used on Wednesday for business. Because the main functionality of geofencing is to provide information and assist in preventing unintended operations in areas that raise concerns, the system generally has been designed with newcomer recreational operators in mind. Commercial operators are generally expected to research and know about restrictions and conditions that may apply to their operations. The unlocking mechanism allows each user to make an appropriate individual operational decision independent of the guidance that is provided by DJI.

Q:  Will GEO prevent me from flying in places where I can fly today?

We are expanding the number and types of areas that are included, but also providing a self-authorizing unlock feature. That means, by simply using a verified account, you will actually be able to fly in more locations than you can today under our current system, including indoor locations that happen to be near airports. You may need to complete a few additional steps, but we think that extra work helps increase awareness of safety concerns. If you aren’t able to unlock an area, it may be because your location is particularly sensitive (such as the area near Washington, D.C.), or because the regulations have changed.

Q:  Where is DJI getting its airspace data from?

We have partnered with Airmap, the leading digital airspace information company, to provide up-to-date airspace information, including airport locations and TFRs.  Airmap works with aviation authorities and other governmental agencies around the world to collect and organize airspace and geospatial information for use by drone manufacturers and operators.  In some cases, for precautionary or technical reasons, DJI’s implementation of this data in its GEO system may differ from the original data Airmap has on file.

Q:  What if I find an error?

DJI will create an error-reporting system. We want our new system to be as accurate and helpful as possible. The unlocking mechanism should allow you to fly in these locations, based on your own judgment, while DJI and AirMap evaluate your error report.

Q:  Will this cost me anything?

No. There will be no charge to upgrade to the new GEO system, assuming your DJI equipment is compatible with the upgrade. Verifying your account with a credit card will not result in a charge.  The credit card is used only as a credential to verify the account. Your carrier’s standard text message rates apply to verification that uses SMS or text messaging communications.

Q:  I usually fly without an Internet-connected device.  How will I use the system?

We are working on an approach for our customers who do not have Internet service at the flight location.

Q:  Where is GEO being implemented?

Initially, we are starting with North America and Europe. We expect to add other regions in the near future, and will make announcements.  Also, airport locations in the existing system will be updated elsewhere worldwide, even in locations where GEO is not implemented at first.

Q:  Is this related to the FAA UAS registration initiative?

No. This is an unrelated industry-led approach to operator education, responsibility, and accountability, and has been under development since the summer. DJI will not require governmental registration in order to use GEO. If and when a drone registration system is implemented, we will evaluate whether it may be used to enhance the functionality of GEO. We do not feel that disclosure of the personal identification of drone users is required in order to create a framework for safe drone operations.

Q:  Are you going to turn over my information to the government?

In general, not unless there is a specific reason to. In the event of an aviation safety or law enforcement investigation that compels us to disclose information, our verification partner may provide information about the credit card or mobile phone number used to verify the DJI account that unlocked an Authorization zone at the location, date, and time in question. This creates a path to accountability in the event of an incident without requiring burdensome up-front collection of personal information, and we feel strikes the right balance at this time. Our observation is that the vast, vast majority of drone operators are responsible community citizens who follow the rules as well as common sense, and therefore it is only necessary to create an accountability mechanism when the operation occurs in a location that raises an aviation safety or security concern. We think our customers deserve the benefit of the doubt, and an accountability system that is minimally invasive.

Q:  Should geofencing be legally mandated?

Based on years of actual customer user experience, we strongly feel the answer is “no.” This technology is being used by a wide variety of operators, who have differing types of authorization that can also vary by date and time. In virtually every area that might be a good candidate for a geofence, we have encountered authorized operators worldwide already engaged in compelling applications. Restricting the use of drone technology based on geographic location alone is not a good solution to the concerns that have recently been raised, and will hobble the beneficial future uses of a technology that is still in its infancy.


2015-11-18
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rodger
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Thank you DJI. This is being proactive.
2015-11-18
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Westside Osprey
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I see this a s a very positive step. It will help to make us fly responsible. And that will keep more draconian measures from being legislated.

I have been part of the Beta Testing B4youFly SW from the FAA. It is very similar, except it works on your phone or tablet. It shows where you are and the restricted zones very clearly and it allows you to file a flight plan into a database over the phone/tablet. In the future it will also contact air traffic control towers/centers and enter you in the system. And then you will either get permission or not digitally. Right now it just gives you the info so you can contact the proper facilities.

I think this is where we need to go in order to keep larger more capable MRs flying legally. The only time you are affected by this is in sensitive areas and 99% of the USA is not in these restricted areas.

You need a license to drive a car or a motorcycle and you are restricted as to where and how you can drive them, and this is a good thing. These larger MRs are really aircraft so they should be registered and have to comply with FAA rules. They are very different from standard RC model planes that are only flown in designated areas and below 400', or at least should be.

Civil and commercial airplanes need permission and need to be in communication with ATC when flying in these areas, so why should these MRs be exempt?

This is just my take on it. Fly safe and have fun. Lets make sure this great hobby is not shut down or severely restricted by obeying common sense rules and practices.
2015-11-18
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Aviator24
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I probably missed it but when will all begin?
2015-11-18
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Viper989
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Aviator24 Posted at 2015-11-18 23:29
I probably missed it but when will all begin?

The new mapping system will become available in December via an update of the DJI Go app and drone firmware
2015-11-18
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WorldPeace
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This step by DJI makes me cautiously hopeful that they will also deliver a solution to overcome the rather arbitrary limits of its "first-generation" cylinder geo-fence that currently limits the P3 relative flight height to [homepoint altitude + 500m, homepoint altitude - 200m] regardless of the P3's actual height above ground.

The simplest example of how ridiculous the height restrictions are: I can fly the P3 500m above flat ground out to 2km (or more), but I cannot fly the P3 30m above the ground to a peak 1km away that is 500m above the altitude of my "homepoint"

Now that DJI will be "intelligently" synching geofencing data while your tablet/smart phone is connected to the internet, it is certainly within the realm of possibility to "intelligently" synch map datum that could be used to validate the true height of waypoints, at least those that go outside of the firmware-hardcoded homepoint-relative limits. I would happily register for this level of service - with a driver's license, a credit card, a mobile phone #, social security #, whatever - because I have some unmanned waypoint missions I need that run where I need the drone to clear some peaks higher than +500m and then descend to an altitude lower than -200m for some agricultural surveillance, private land bordered by NF/BLM. Such a "Pre-Verify Waypoint Mission" service would be required while online for waypoint missions where any of the mission's waypoints exceed the current builtin [+500m,-200m] height limits. This could even be securely accomplished offline if valid map data is cached and a personal private key signed by DJI had been obtained from DJI as part of the "registration" transaction for obtaining this service.

Bottom line - if DJI can go to this level of geo-fencing, then there is nothing that should keep them from providing similar service for overcominig their first-generation cylindrical flight limits.
2015-11-18
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Paniza
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I finally will be able to fly with some peace of mind.

Can't wait to see it running.

Cheers!
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2015-11-18
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AG0N-Gary
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Repeating from the other thread on the same subject, because it wasn't included here.

It does bring up questions that are not answered in the FAQ.  Just how long does this authorization take to be applied for and received?  Some things happen with little notice.  Also, let's imagine a restricted area that I have permission to fly in at all times, due to my job or other.  Will authorization have to be applied for every time I decide to fly?  If so, this is a pain in the butt.  Will airports that are not currently listed as no-fly zones suddenly appear as no-fly-zones?

Generally, I like the sound of this service.  However, the response to those questions can easily threaten its usability to some of us.
2015-11-18
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jack1144
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This may be very good for commercial ops.
Good thinking DJI.
2015-11-18
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DJI-Patrick
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That's awesome !
2015-11-18
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jnshaw
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Overall, I see no major problems with this approach. However, I see two problems with this, both of which probably need to be addressed.

First, I personally (so far) fly exclusively at an RC Club that is located in an authorized area of a large public park in the Los Angeles area. The park is just that, a large open area without anything around it, and especially no WiFi availability. But it is 3.5 miles from a small airport (the Club has already coordinated with the airport, so we don't have to worry about the club's RC aircraft flying there).

Currently, I'm using a Samsung Tab 4 that only has WiFi, (and literally in the middle of typing the previous sentence, Fed Ex delivered my new Nvidia Shield Tablet, and the new Shield Tablets only have WiFi). And also, there are probably many other devices being used for DJI GO that don't have Internet access, or are out of Cell Phone range. So, DJI needs to address this situation, where there is no outside Internet Access to authorize the flight. They will have the same problem if DJI's site goes down for any reason and all DJI products in the whole world can't get authorization.

They may try something like allowing the pilot to pre-authorize their flights when they are in a WiFi area, and let DJI GO use this authorization for 24 hours or some such time when they are outside WiFi range or if DJI GO can't contact their Authorization Server.

Second, another problem would be with authorized users, such as the police or government, not being able to use DJI products inside the Prohibited Areas. So, for instance, the Secret Service or Washington DC police couldn't use their DJI products inside the Washington DC area, even though they obviously have authorization to use them there.

DJI could use some form of Super-Authorization that would be specific to this class of user that would allow overriding all the flight restrictions. This could also be used when a commercial user (such as a DC TV Station) gets specific authorization to use the DJI product in the Prohibited Areas.

Jerry
2015-11-19
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adalesandro
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jnshaw Posted at 2015-11-19 14:08
Overall, I see no major problems with this approach. However, I see two problems with this, both of  ...

Jerry,
I think I fly at the same park as you in Van Nuys? It is within an airport zone but, as you said, it's safe. But I wonder if the software will know it's safe to fly there or at the nearby Sepulveda Dam.
2015-11-19
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mike.wildlight
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My hope is this will lift the current restrictions on legal operations outside the arbitrary limits DJI have imposed. It would be awesome if someone from DJI could give their views on this.

Defo need more detail on the "offline" aspect of the operation of geofencing
2015-11-20
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bogovcicvladimi
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Croatia
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Hl all

I have a question whether DJI have their own software to create a 3D map?  
If you do not specify any one of the possible program to create 3D map ty.
2015-11-21
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mike.wildlight
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bogovcicvladimi Posted at 2015-11-21 21:11
Hl all

I have a question whether DJI have their own software to create a 3D map?  

Nor really related to the topic at hand...
However, I use Maps Made Easy: https://www.mapsmadeeasy.com/

2015-11-21
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Geebax
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mike.wildlight Posted at 2015-11-21 06:54
My hope is this will lift the current restrictions on legal operations outside the arbitrary limits  ...

I took a look at the NFZs published on the DJI site for Australia, and they are pretty scarce, lots of airports are not even listed, and nothing like stadiums or such. So unless these are expanded, I can't see us having much of a problem here.
2015-11-21
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mike.wildlight
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Geebax Posted at 2015-11-22 07:52
I took a look at the NFZs published on the DJI site for Australia, and they are pretty scarce, lot ...

Yeah I generally think this is conceptually a good thing, on the caveat of how the offline aspects will work.
That's why I'm hoping the end result will be a lift in the 122m AGL limit for autonomous flight and the 500m AGL limit for free flight.
2015-11-21
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Geebax
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mike.wildlight Posted at 2015-11-22 12:17
Yeah I generally think this is conceptually a good thing, on the caveat of how the offline aspects ...

I'm hoping for an increase in the maximum distance between waypoints. I want to shoot shots taken alongside a moving train, and 500 metres is not enough for that. Interesting that I live not far from the airport at Tooradin, and it is not even listed on the NFZ chart.
2015-11-21
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Phuglie
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I like this very much!
2015-11-22
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bogovcicvladimi
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mike.wildlight Posted at 2015-11-21 20:24
Nor really related to the topic at hand...
However, I use Maps Made Easy: https://www.mapsmadeeasy ...

Thank you very much!!
2015-11-25
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Phoenixaerial
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Does anyone know how to add your credit card info to get verified.. I have logged in and looked everywhere to try to find this area..

2015-11-26
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Phoenixaerial
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How do you add Credit Card info to get verified.  
2015-11-26
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mike.wildlight
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Phoenixaerial Posted at 2015-11-27 04:32
How do you add Credit Card info to get verified.

Hasn't been implemented yet Phoenixaerial
2015-11-26
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Phoenixaerial
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mike.wildlight Posted at 2015-11-26 11:33
Hasn't been implemented yet Phoenixaerial

Thanks for the info
2015-11-27
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DRONEFREAK55
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Nice to know that. I wonder if  DJI pilots in Puerto Rico will get the upgrade (with geofencing) since all FAA rules and regulations are enforced in our airspace.
2015-11-27
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toddf.perkins
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I wonder if we will be allowed to unlock the 500m height restriction
2015-12-1
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cotijuba
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Any date for the update?
2015-12-17
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