About the only thing growing quicker than the number of privately owned drones is the level of concern surrounding them. Questions of privacy and how these things can be regulated are pretty well-founded, but are so far yet to be met with any convincing answers. NoFlyZone.org may go some way to providing a solution, allowing users to enter their address to create drone-free zones in the airspace over their homes.
The process seems simple enough. Users visit NoFlyZone.org and enter their home address along with some basic information. This data is then processed by the NoFlyZone.org database, which registers the address and its GPS coordinates. This information is then relayed to drone manufacturers to create a geofence around the home and render their products unable to fly over the property.
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So how many manufacturers are onboard? Not a whole lot... yet. HEXO+, the company behind the auto-tracking drone that amassed more than US$1 million in Kickstarter funding last year has signed on, as has Ehang, makers of the recently unveiled Ghost Drone. Other names include DroneDeploy, a drone management platform, and electric aviation company Yuneec.
Astute onlookers will note the absence of big players like DJI and 3D Robotics, but NoFlyZone.org says it is in the process of forming a consortium of participants from the industry interested in taking a more proactive approach to privacy issues, so it wouldn't be a huge surprise if they got involved. Especially considering the firmware upgrade from DJI last week that effectively made the White House and downtown Washington DC a no-go zone (a patch that has subsequently been rolled back, for now).
Success of NoFlyZone.org will hinge largely on the manufacturers that choose to adopt it, and even then, how effectively private drone owners can be coerced into updating software to adhere to its restrictions. Either way, as the Federal Aviation Administration drags its feet on drone law reform it looks to be a step in the right direction, with some in the industry apparently keen to initiate some form of self-regulation.