Drones

DJI firmware update makes the White House a drone no-fly zone

DJI firmware update makes the ...
DJI has announced a new firmware update that disables drones flying within a 15.5 mile (25 km) radius of the White House (Photo: Ben Coxworth/Gizmag.com)
DJI has announced a new firmware update that disables drones flying within a 15.5 mile (25 km) radius of the White House (Photo: Ben Coxworth/Gizmag.com)
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DJI has announced a new firmware update that disables drones flying within a 15.5 mile (25 km) radius of the White House (Photo: Ben Coxworth/Gizmag.com)
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DJI has announced a new firmware update that disables drones flying within a 15.5 mile (25 km) radius of the White House (Photo: Ben Coxworth/Gizmag.com)

Following the crash-landing of a drone on the grounds of the White House last week, the Chinese manufacturer of said drone, DJI, has released new firmware to prevent overzealous pilots flying UAVs anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Available to download now for owners of the company's popular Phantom 2 drones, the update signals a willingness from the company to work with regulators to clear the air for safer drone flight.

With more and more UAVs finding their way into the hands of hobbyists, commercial operators, and government employees who have enjoyed a drink or two, ensuring the aircraft don't come into contact with planes, presidential palaces and anything else to which they may pose a threat is critical to public safety and ultimately, their widespread adoption.

To this end, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a set of rules in place designed to promote safer use. These include flying the drone within the pilot's line of site, not flying higher than 400 ft (122 m), keeping clear of manned aircraft and notifying airports or control towers if flying within 5 miles (8 km).

But these regulations won't be all that easy to enforce. So rather than relying on the goodwill of its customers to straighten up and fly right, DJI is turning to software to make sure its products aren't caught up in any illegal activity.

The new firmware update is for owners of the Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision + and integrates a no-fly zone over the White House and a 15.5 mile (25 km) radius around it.

DJI has taken a proactive approach to integrating safety precautions into its Phantom drones. In April last year it announced a flight limitation system, which works with flight agencies and GPS to determine no-fly zones around the world's airports. Simply put, if your Phantom drone has a strong enough GPS signal and you are within a certain distance of an airport, you won't be able to take off.

At present, DJI says it is continuing to update its no-fly zone list, claiming "sensitive institutions and national borders" to be in its sights. This may well be in response to a drone loaded with crystal meth crashing down near the US-Mexico border last month.

These efforts to allay common safety concerns are a smart move from DJI, already a dominant figure in the consumer drone market. Pre-empting the risks, both potential and real, should help to appease the FAA and usher in the adoption of UAVs, and probably won't do the company's market share any harm either.

Source: DJI

8 comments
martinkopplow
Can I please also have a no fly zone over my house? I feel just as threatened as Mr. President does. Equal rights, right? Thank you.
David Clarke
Perhaps there should be the rights to shoot down suspicious drones. I'm pretty sure that drone flyers will find a way round the software if they want to fly somewhere they shouldn't.
I'm also sure that the government would arrange that no-fly zones could be altered at any time, and even enable control of the vehicles to be taken over by government/military.
So there won't be any Google deliveries to the White House?
Chevypower
My house is a no fly zone also, the consequences of breaching that ordinance will be shown by a 12 gauge.
Bob Flint
Just because they release a patch to the software, doesn't mean one is going to use it. Most likely the intention was to see how close can a drone get before it's stopped. This one seemed to have made it quite far in before it crashed? Or was subdued somehow, or maybe just dumb pilot error?
Robert Viskil
I love the fact that still people keep calling Radio Control Quadcopters Drones. #drone just to keep getting put in the news...
James P Pratt
Gas and electric powered model airplanes have been around for years and have not caused any real issues because people use common sense when flying them. Quadcopters (drones to the uninformed) are more stable and easier to control, plus software can be programmed to meet regulations as discussed in this article. I would be more afraid of a guy with a 12 gauge who says he'll discharge it in the city, then I would of a proficient quadcopter operator.
christopher
I hate kneejerk laws; inch-long styrene drones exist, that are harmless in every situation other drones are "banned" in, yet they suffer the same brain-dead shortsighted laws.
Plus, maybe if politicians don't like the idea of having the things they do recorded, they should not be doing whatever those things are :-)
StWils
This action while understandable and well intended just sets a new boundary for harckeristas to intrude upon. Who wants to be the first to dive buzz Congress from inside the dome? The current RepubliCant majority does provide an invitingly large target to chase under their chairs...