The manufacturer of the wildly popular Phantom 4 is definitely known for making the most useful and able drones in the professional or higher-end category, and they announced some big changes this past week. They are releasing a new version of the software that integrates technology to “make the judgment call” on which areas the pilot can fly in.
The Geospatial Environment Online, (or GEO), is what is on board providing fliers with current information about the areas that flight is hindered for national safety. When you are piloting a DJI drone, you already have access to live information regarding forest fires, sporting events, presidential travel, and other constantly changing safety factors.
This on-board software also provides data that anyone from a novice up to a professional would want about the location of prisons, nuclear power plants, and other important obstructions. What happens is that the GEO has the power to set default limits or take-off within the locations that the database (which is constantly updated) deems unsafe.
The GEO system is known as “advisory only”, and each individual user is responsible for checking their own local sources and figuring out the nitty gritty about what may apply to their flight that specific day. Within the GEO system, there are different stages of warning zones, and the software acts in different ways depending on where you are.
In a “Warning zone”, users are prompted with a warning message such as a prison or protected area, and these are zones that may not appear on the Dji GO map, which is the first point of resource for many pilots.
Enhanced Warning Zone
In an “enhanced warning zone”, you are prompted by GEO to unlock the zone using the same criteria as an Authorization Zone, but you do not require an account that is “verified” to do so.
In an “Authorization Zone”, users are prompted with a severe warning, and the flight is limited, or “overridden” by the GEO. These zones may be unlocked by authorization users that have a Dji verified account.
A “Restricted zone” is one that appears as red in the Dji GO app, and users are immediately prompted with a warning and flight is completely prevented. These are sensitive areas such as Washington D.C, and need to be heeded with extreme caution.
Potential New Version
The new version of the software has the potential to help those who want to use DJI drones to closely inspect properties that happen to fall geographically into the US FAA’s restricted airspace zones. Even before this update, you already provided the DJI manufacturer with a credit card and phone number, to be quickly found if there are any discrepancies.
The new version of software could also enable the pilot to “unlock” some of the areas that they themselves may be able to obtain permission to operate within. The perimeter of Washington D.C. will still not be able to be unlocked by the user, and there also will be the ability to bolster temporary flight restrictions around wildfires, so fire crews can fight with full force and not worry about any interruption from private drones.
One of the most important things to remember on the consumer level as companies such as Amazon that want to do delivery and many other issues are on the table is that some pilots will be able to have authorization. Many who are in an outcry over restrictions have fears that their newfound drone hobby could be completely stamped out and regulated by the government, but there have already been instances of drones above D.C., above US open tennis matches, and accidentally dangling in the way of those putting out forest fires during the first two months of this summer.
The possibility of what the future holds for commercial drone operations are limitless, and this is the kind of news story that makes the future just a bit more solid. The areas in which that you cannot fly are very understandable and defined, yet this new update for the DJI software will allow those with special training and clearance to be able to leverage an easier way around their day-to-day duties.